The U.S. military in Iraq doesn't like numbers, or at least it doesn't like to add them up. Soldiers killed in Iraq are announced, incident by incident, in terse press releases that give the scantest of details. The U.S. Marine Corps is the most parsimonious with information. When Marines are killed in Fallujah, which has happened often, the Corps has only this to say (as it did on April 14): "Four Marines assigned to 1 Marine Expeditionary Force were killed recently as a result of enemy action in the Al Anbar Province while conducting security and stability operations." The province covers a swath of Iraq bigger than Belgium, but Fallujah is where they're actually fighting.
In addition to the minimalist announcements, the military avoids keeping any sort of running tallies, particularly when things are going badly. The Pentagon has also studiously refused to release estimates of enemy casualties, although these are indeed detailed in every after-action report. "We don't do body counts," was the explanation of Gen. Tommy Franks, the CENTCOM commander when the war began.
The American military is mindful of Vietnam, where the estimates of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese killed, released on a daily basis, proved a huge embarrassment when someone with a calculator figured out that the entire male population of Vietnam had been exterminated, at least on paper. This horror of numbers extends beyond just the death tolls; it's as if statistics too are the enemy, or at least statisticians.
What military officials have said is that the first half of April has been notably violent. By the numbers, the month has been more than violent-it's been deadly.
Here are NEWSWEEK's calculations:
150,000. The estimated number of all coalition forces in Iraq, of which about 124,000 are Americans and 26,000 are others. A total of 35 countries contributes forces, but most number less than 1,000. Some, like Mongolia, are in the low two digits. Only the British, with about 11,000 troops, have a significant force.
20,000. The number of U.S. troops who are being told this week that they'll have to stay in Iraq another 90 days, even though they've completed their one-year "boots on the ground" deployment.
8,875 to 10,725. The minimum and maximum estimates of the number of Iraqi civilians killed in Iraq so far, according to IraqBodyCount.org, an organization of British and American academics. Other groups have even higher estimates.
3,466. The total of American soldiers wounded in action in Iraq through April 17, 2004, according to the Pentagon. There's a lot of controversy about these figures, which do not include many minor wounds, although they do include some soldiers who are wounded and returned to duty. Other estimates of wounded American soldiers range as high as 15,000.
793. Total coalition soldiers killed in Iraq since the war began, according to the U.S. Army's Central Command, as of April 17, 2004. Of those, 579 were killed in action. 690 of the dead are American soldiers of which 501 are officially listed as KIA or hostile action. Besides the Americans, soldiers from El Salvador, Thailand, Spain, Italy, Britain, Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Denmark and Bulgaria have lost their lives.
600. The number of people killed during the current siege of Fallujah, according to hospital officials there. They're estimating though, since many dead are not brought to the hospital but buried immediately according to Islamic traditions. Most of them are civilians, and the majority women and children, according to these officials, whose accounts are impossible to verify since no independent journalists have been able to visit Fallujah.
600. The number of people killed during the current siege of Falluja, according to spokesmen for the Marines' First Division besieging that city, who say that 95 percent of the victims are military-age men, and the others are human shields used by the resistance there. Again, a number that is impossible to verify. "That just proves that the Marines are very good at what they do," one official said.
110. The number of coalition soldiers killed in November 2003, which has so far been the war's worst month. But those numbers were ratcheted up by four helicopter crashes, as a result of ground fire from insurgents, one of which alone killed 17 soldiers. In quiet times, an average of two American soldiers are killed every day in Iraq, so April will almost certainly top November-even if the current ceasefires in Fallujah and Najaf, troubled as they are, continue to hold.
92. The number of coalition soldiers (65 Americans and 27 Brits) killed in March 2003. That was a short month; the war began only on March 21, but a huge invasion-force was charging through enemy lines. It wasn't supposed to get any worse than that.
91. The number of coalition soldiers killed in April 2004, making this the third deadliest month in the war so far for the coalition and the second deadliest for the Americans. And it's only half over. Eighty-nine of the dead were Americans, all killed in action.
58. The number of foreigners taken prisoner in Iraq since April 8, when the current wave of hostage-takings began. Some of them may be dead, others have been released; a few may be soldiers who were taken prisoner. They represent 18 nationalities.
41. The number of hostages in Iraq released since April 8, leaving 16 still being held or unaccounted for. Most of those released were from countries, like France and Russia, who were not members of the coalition. But it's an indication of the varied nature of the resistance that some coalition nationalities, including South Koreans, Brits and even Americans, have been taken and then released.
22. The number of foreign civilians killed in Iraq since the beginning of March, 2004, through April 17, 2004. There were previous killings of foreigners too, but only a relative handful; no good figures are available.
20, 70, 50. The numbers of daily resistance attacks against coalition forces in Iraq a month ago, a week ago, and on April 17 respectively, according to confidential security reports from the Coalition Provisional Authority.
5.35. The average number of coalition soldiers killed daily in April 2004. Uninflated by any single large incident, this average reflects the greatly increased tempo of the fighting and of attacks on U.S. troops over a broad area, not just in Fallujah, but also in Mosul, Ramadi, Baquba, Samarra, and elsewhere. By comparison, 3.67 troops died daily in November, and 7.67 a day in the eleven days of March, 2003.
1. The number of hostages known to be murdered, of American POWs seized and of civilians working for the coalition held hostage. The murdered hostage was an Italian security guard named Fabrizio Quattrocchi; his grisly death was recorded on a videotape delivered to al Jazeera. He reportedly removed the hood his executioners put over his head and shouted, "I'll show you how an Italian dies." In addition, one American soldier, Army Private Matthew Maupin, was videotaped in captivity; his captors said they were treating him as a POW according to Islamic traditions. Finally, a truck driver for Kellogg, Brown and Root, who had been delivering military supplies, was also shown on resistance videos and news footage being held captive. Six other truck drivers and two soldiers are also unaccounted for from the ambush that hit his convoy, just outside of Baghdad. "Hamill, Thomas," he said, when asked his name. It was a reminder that these are all more than just numbers.