Writing in Mother Jones, Bradford Plumer says we need better statistics to gauge the situation in Iraq:
according to the Pentagon’s own estimates, that need is increasing far faster than the U.S. can train new troops. Official statistics currently claim that 145,000 Iraqi Security Forces are “trained and equipped.” Yet the estimated number of troops required has ballooned from roughly 170,000 a year ago to over 270,000 today.
Even worse, the metrics for judging readiness, available publicly in the Iraq Weekly Progress Report on the Pentagon’s website, change constantly from week to week.
This led me to check on a statistic I hadn’t looked at in a while: the number of civilians killed as a result of military intervention in Iraq. They now estimate between 17,200 and 19,600 civilian causalities in Iraq. (Note: Iraqbodycount.net bases their statistics only on accounts published in more than one source, so they tend to be a the low end of the spectrum.)