It informs the reader:
- A soldier was killed Tuesday during security operations in Iraq's Anbar province.
- A soldier died of a non-combat injury Wednesday at a base near Tikrit.
- A soldier died in a vehicle accident Wednesday in Iraq's Diyala province.
- A soldier died in a vehicle accident Wednesday near Balad.
What caught my eye was the two deaths in a vehicle accident. It prompted the thought that this reason seemed to appear with a very high frequency.
Delving back a bit I found the following statistics relating to such deaths since the beginning of the year:
Jan 16 - 1
Jan 17 - 1
Jan 25 - 5
Jan 29 - 1
Jan 29 - 1
Feb 1 - 1
Feb 10 - 1
Feb 11 - 1
Feb 13 - 3
Feb 16 - 2
This is a total of 18 deaths in one and a half months, not from any form of enemy action but simply from road accidents - collisions, vehicles turned over etc.
How does this compare with deaths from vehicle accidents back home in the USA? Well, you guys don't do so well in this area. You are 26th in the world league table (don't despair, the Greeks are just as bad).
According to the statistics , you kill more than twice as many per 100,000 of your population than we do in the UK.
More to the point, however, is that in six weeks the nearly same number died per 100,000 of population of what are described as "vehicle accidents" in Iraq as in a whole year of even the high US death toll. (US troop levels being taken at 130,000 operational.)
O.K so this is a war zone, you might argue.
Right. But we are talking Humvees, trucks and armoured vehicles, not Porsches and hot rods. We are not talking about vehicles pushing 80 mph down your Inter-States. We are not talking about vehicles suffering damage from enemy fire - or, at least, the Pentagon isn't.
Nor are we talking about John Doe in his T-shirt and jeans, driving four hundred miles home in thick traffic. We are talking about guys in heavy duty, armoured encased vehicles driven by people wearing body protection and helmets. We are talking about highly trained, top qualified drivers.
So what is going on behind these statistics that say you have eight times more chance of being killed in a vehicle accident in Iraq than you do back home?
Are the vehicles more unsafe, the training inadequate, the protection insufficient, the procedures faulty? Or is the Pentagon using "vehicle accident" as a more comfortable description than one suggesting the involvement of some form of insurgent action?
Seventeen families in the United States in the last six weeks alone have a right to know. A Congressman or a journalist should be armed with these statistics and asking the Pentagon for an explanation.
I need to do more research over a much longer period. I need to look at the frequency against the ebb and flow of insurgency action since the invasion. I need plot these type of deaths against other types. I need to see how these compare with UK deaths from this cause in the same theater of war.
Then I need broaden the work to see what comes out of looking at the other fatalities and what this may produce in the way of questions. Not least, do the fatalities from enemy action against vehicles show a reduction in deaths since the alarms about the lack of proper armour were first raised.
What do you think? Is it worth following up?
If you think it is, recommend this diary. I'll be blunt. I am a lazy son-of-a-welshladee and I'm not doing this work if no Kossack cares. My last two diaries got 21 and 35 recommendations, still didn't make the recommended list and received less than an hour and half of visibility. If it don't show, people don't know.
I'm getting mighty bored with the wasted effort of researched diaries.
Update Since writing this, I have realised that the "four times" the deaths back home could be wildly understated. Only a small section of the military are drivers. As a percentage of all military, they may be a lot smaller than the percentage of the total population that drives. Checking. Meanwhile, some great thoughts have been posted - thanks.)