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American and coalition troops have reported killing and capturing more suspected insurgents in the first half of 2007 than in any other similar period of the Iraq war, while military officials said so-called “body count” reports are meant to give “scale” to the fight.

Last week, USA Today reported that since June 2003, the U.S. military in Iraq has kept a count of insurgents killed, injured and detained. Those figures were later released by the military to Stars and Stripes.

Through August 2007, those figures show, 18,832 suspected insurgents had been reported killed, 5,196 injured and 119,752 arrested by U.S. and coalition forces.

In 2007, the figures show, coalition troops arrested an average of around 100 suspected insurgents each day. Military officials have said both the increased casualty and capture figures are attributed in part to the “surge” and more aggressive tactics by units throughout the country.

The figures are compiled from “significant action” reports received from the field, said Capt. Michael Greenberger, who released the statistics to Stars and Stripes.

“The number of individuals detained does not represent the number of detainees currently held in Iraq. The number of individuals detained is an aggregate number and does not reflect the length of time individuals may have detained,” Greenberger said.

Since the beginning of the war — indeed, since the Vietnam War, when the practice was derided — the U.S. military has eschewed body counts.

In 2005, though, press releases began being issued with numbers of enemy fighters believed killed and captured in operations. At the time, military officials said there was no top-down order to report the numbers; instead, they were reported at the discretion of ground commanders releasing information about their operations.

On Friday, a top American general in Iraq began a briefing with Pentagon reporters by noting the death of a senior al-Qaida in Iraq leader earlier that week. His recounting of six separate operations leading to the operative’s death included specific numbers of alleged enemy fighters killed and captured.

When asked about the numbers, Brig. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the chief of staff for Multi–National Corps–Iraq, said, “We’re not focused on the numbers.”

“On most operations we have fairly quantifiable data, but that’s not the genesis of what we’re trying to determine. But if we have it, we release it. So in most releases you see us do, it will tell you: wounded, killed detained/captured, it will lay that out.”

Anderson said he had seen the USA Today article, but that “we’re not focused on” overall numbers.

“There’s no attempt to sit down and tally it all up and keep track of it. We just try and do it operation by operation, and yes, try and talk concretely about those things that we can, based on what we know. But it is not any desire to change any tactic, or any way we deal with the media or anybody else, about numbers being released.”

However, he said, “I think it’s important to have it all in context.”

“I think if you’re, obviously, doing a very good job of reporting our casualties, it’s very important to understand it — particularly if they are foreign fighters or what network they belong to in Iraq, to try and give you some benefit, some value of understanding who these insurgents, militias, terrorists, foreign fighters, other elements are…” Anderson said. “You’re going to see many reports that are going to give you that.”

Greenberger, asked after Anderson’s briefing, said the data released does not include any of the identifying metrics mentioned by Anderson.

“But the data is maintained, to get a feel for ‘scale-of,’” Anderson said.

Date Occurred AIF Killed AIF Injured AIF Detained

Jun-03 14 46 142

Jul-03 78 85 583

Aug-03 71 69 739

Sep-03 72 77 872

Oct-03 101 79 959

Nov-03 153 109 2233

Dec-03 108 79 2761

Jan-04 77 50 2023

Feb-04 53 48 1496

Mar-04 77 67 1953

Apr-04 1247 620 1619

May-04 758 124 1219

Jun-04 366 107 1209

Jul-04 243 89 1507

Aug-04 1623 201 1486

Sep-04 727 80 1526

Oct-04 333 82 2264

Nov-04 960 94 3861

Dec-04 337 61 2669

Jan-05 261 76 4085

Feb-05 173 93 2566

Mar-05 184 104 3184

Apr-05 203 62 3037

May-05 386 110 4109

Jun-05 320 95 4371

Jul-05 180 65 3660

Aug-05 244 72 2871

Sep-05 313 71 3052

Oct-05 467 92 3174

Nov-05 346 60 3569

Dec-05 170 48 2782

Jan-06 187 74 2168

Feb-06 156 69 2096

Mar-06 197 55 2625

Apr-06 349 75 2702

May-06 363 71 2535

Jun-06 250 51 2206

Jul-06 332 95 2769

Aug-06 203 74 2288

Sep-06 241 101 1956

Oct-06 391 227 2596

Nov-06 576 160 2516

Dec-06 657 192 2858

Jan-07 768 144 3205

Feb-07 612 167 2909

Mar-07 493 124 3442

Apr-07 535 256 3205

May-07 506 159 3130

Jun-07 634 174 2948

Jul-07 575 192 3005

Aug-07 505 120 3239

Sep-07 254 45 2062

TOTAL 18832 5196 119752

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