WASHINGTON – With fighting in Iraq now at its worst, the number of U.S. military personnel killed by enemy fire has reached the highest level since the Vietnam War.
The first part of April has been the bloodiest period so far for U.S. troops in Iraq. There were 87 deaths by hostile fire in the first 15 days of the month, more than in the opening two weeks of the invasion, when 82 Americans were killed in action.
“This has been some pretty intense fighting,” said David Segal, director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Research on Military Organization. “We’re looking at what happened during the major battles of Vietnam.”
The last time U.S. troops experienced a comparable two-week loss in combat was October 1971, two years before U.S. ground involvement ended in Vietnam.
There are 135,000 U.S. personnel in Iraq. Nearly 700 American soldiers have died since the beginning of the war. As of Friday, 493 had been killed by hostile fire. An additional 3,630 have been wounded.