Turning point: The Battle of Fallujah
"The rule of thumb for the last century or so has been that for a guerrilla force to remain viable, it must inflict seven casualties on the forces of the government it is fighting for each casualty it sustains ... By that measure, the resistance in Iraq has had a bad week. American and Iraqi government troops have killed at least 1,200 fighters in Fallujah, and captured 1,100 more. Those numbers will grow as mop-up operations continue.-- Quotes from Jack Kelly's November 21, 2004 article Victory in Fallujah
These casualties were inflicted at a cost (so far) of 56 Coalition dead (51 Americans), and just over 300 wounded, of whom about a quarter have returned to duty.
"That kill ratio would be phenomenal in any [kind of] battle, but in an urban environment, it's revolutionary," said retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, perhaps America's most respected writer on military strategy.
"The rule has been that [in urban combat] the attacking force would suffer between a quarter and a third of its strength in casualties."
The victory in Fallujah was also remarkable for its speed, Peters said. Speed was necessary, he said, "because you are fighting not just the terrorists, but a hostile global media."
Fallujah ranks up there with Iwo Jima, Inchon and Hue as one of the greatest triumphs of American arms ... The resistance has suffered a loss of more than 2,000 combatants, out of a total force estimated by U.S. Central Command at about 5,000 (other estimates are higher) as well as its only secure base in the country."