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Sunday, June 1, 2008

The numbers here, sent to me at my request by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq, pretty much speak for themselves. This chart shows a major improvement in the safety of driving around Iraq with the U.S. Army. In January 2007, about 1 in 5 convoys in Iraq was attacked. By the end of last year, that ratio had fallen to 1 in 33. By April, it was just 1 in 100.

One reason the attacks have declined is that many Sunni insurgents have switched sides and are now on the U.S. payroll, in local militias that U.S. officials call the "Sons of Iraq." Another is that al-Qaeda in Iraq has come under severe and prolonged attack over the last 12 months, with many of its leaders killed or captured. Finally, the redeployment of U.S. troops out into the Iraqi population, along with a rise in the quality of Iraqi forces, has helped produce better intelligence on the people carrying out roadside bombings.

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Tom Ricks is The Post's military correspondent. This feature aims to give readers a snapshot of the conversations about Iraq, Afghanistan and other matters that play out in Ricks's e-mail inbox. Have an interesting document? Send it to TheInbox@washpost.com.


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