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Larry Johnson, first of all for your story, need to get the facts right. Poor math, the Vietnam kill ratio stood at roughly 20:1!

The Elusive Iraqi Tipping Point ◊ Larry Johnson

It is worth recalling that in Vietnam we killed close to 1 million North Vietnamese while we suffered 57,000 fatalities. That was a kill ratio of roughly 200 to 1. Unfortunately, we do not know where this magical tipping point is.

Although our troops and intelligence operatives are killing scores of insurgents (my friend CIA buddy – estimated the kill rate at 160 enemy per each friendly) the insurgents keep coming.

From memory of Vietnam era, the code for kill ratio was a standard 10:1 on the battlefield. Lose one of our own in the jungle, there would be 10 of them! This was a standard multiplication during Vietnam era for U.S. Command or DoD press release. The heavy bombardments above North Vietnam, especially the harbor Haiphong and city of Hanoi, accounted for the rest of the military and civilian deaths of the Vietnamese.

All this said and the correction made for Vietnam, this now creates a problem for your buddy’s quote of the Iraqi insurgents’ deaths. First off hand, I will declare that just like in Vietnam, all civilian deaths are counted as enemy combatants. A wedding party of 50 persons killed by a precision bomb, really killed perhaps 5 persons belonging to the insurgency.

Taking the ratio of 160:1 as best estimate for Iraq today and the 20:1 as proven fact for Vietnam in the past, this leaves a factor eight unexplained in Iraq. No need to remind the BooTribbers of the onslaught in Fallujah 2x, the heavy toll of civilian deaths at roadblocks and the slaughter in the Euphrates valley still ongoing today.

Using the friendly coalition death numbers U.S. 2,200 plus let’s say 2,800 for rest of coalition including Iraqi armed forces for a total of 5,000.

Kill ratio 160:1 means 800,000 Iraqi insurgents killed to date. (IMO highly unlikely)
Using kill ratio of Vietnam enemy soldiers 20:1, would define in Iraq 100,000 enemy combatants killed.

Difference of 700,000 would need some explanation!

Pentagon Joint Publication 3-06 ::
Doctrine for Joint Urban Operations – General John P Abizaid

In September 2002 the Pentagon produced Joint Publication 3-06: ‘Doctrine for Joint Urban Operations’ under the guidance and signature of General John P Abizaid, at that time Director Joint Staff and now overall commander of US forces in Iraq. Appearance of this manual five months before the invasion of Iraq was doubtless coincidental, but it is reasonable to suppose that it was distributed widely during preparation for the war, which had been taking place for most of that year.

Chapter: Operational Tasks and Considerations, page 88 —

One of the major areas of consideration in the LOAC is that of targeting. There are few absolutes in targeting, but the application of the general principles applies. Commanders must confirm that targets support military objectives. The following may be considered to be in that category: (1) members of the armed forces having the status of combatants; (2) noncombatants who, lose their protected status by taking a direct part in hostilities; (3) objects that by their nature, location, purpose, or use are either military property, or they contribute to the adversary’s war effort, and their destruction provides a military advantage. Although civilians, non-combatants and civilian property, may not be specifically targeted, incidental injury and collateral damage are not unlawful if: caused incident to an attack on a lawful target, and the incidental injury and collateral damage are not excessive in light of the anticipated military advantage from the attack. Targeting issues are important not only in urban combat operations, but also in unconventional situations where an adversary, in violation of the LOAC, may use civilians to mask attacks or as unlawful combatants.

The words ‘collateral damage’ mean death, but I cannot understand why soldiers refuse to use the word ‘death’. If politicians and bureaucrats want to try to deceive themselves and the world by disguising the plain and horrible fact that people die violently and are maimed in war, both by intention and in error, then let them. But soldiers should face reality.

Two photos that changed American and World perception of the Vietnam War ::

“Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”