February 4, 2007

Helicopters Down: Anti-Iraqi Ground Fire?

Update: Make that 5 downed since January 20. Uh.. make that at least six (Feb 21, 2007), which is about six in one month.

Original Post:

Here's a funny quote by Maj. Gen. William Caldwell told reporters that the investigations into the crashes of three Army and one private helicopters are incomplete.

it does appear they were all the result of some kind of anti-Iraqi ground fire that did bring those helicopters down. [1]
"Anti-Iraqi ground fire?" Everyone slips up now and again. Maybe Associated Press Writer SAMEER N. YACOUB got it wrong. So someone meant to say "Anti-Aircraft."

A friend and I were talking yesterday about this "turning point." It was predicted by General Barry McCaffrey, who indicated that the loss of air cover would result in an upturn in the loss of US Troops (still looking for that reference). Instead of 2-3 losses, we might be hearing about 10-20 losses.

But why now? Is it a reporting phenomenon? Interesting that reports on numbers of helicopters downed since May 2003 are vanishing from the web. Google's ghost reports the following:

Another U.S. helicopter lost in Iraq - Yahoo! News. The United States has lost more than 50 helicopters in Iraq since May 2003 ...news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070203/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq - 41k - Feb 2, 2007
Since May 2003, the U.S. military has lost 54 helicopters in Iraq, about half of ... attack helicopter in Iraq, includes a number of sophisticated defenses,
www.columbian.com/news/APStories/AP01292007news98511.cfm - 57k
On average, that's about 13 a year, or one a month, half to hostile fire if we can believe the reports (Briet Bart does offer a full article). Maybe it's just a statistical clump we're seeing, and the corporate media has new-found interest in reporting on the down-sides of Bush's Iraq war. But it has been three helicopters in ten days. Maybe the insurgents have gotten lucky and pilots have gotten sloppy. However, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged that insurgent ground fire in Iraq "has been more effective against our helicopters in the last couple of weeks." [2]

Or, maybe the training takes even longer, or the Iraqi insurgency is very disciplined and has been waiting for this point in time: The final battle. Under this hypothesis, missing anit-aircraft missiles, reported originally by the New York Times in 2004, could account for the current upsurge in lost helicopters.

I'll leave further pondering to the miliary analysts.


[1] Associated Press, Februrary 4, 2007, U.S.: 4 copter losses due to ground fire.

[2] Associated Press, February 3, 2007, By BASSEM MROUE. Another U.S. Helicopter Lost in Iraq

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