US troop losses in Iraq dropped in the past month, matching the levels of March 2006 and giving a tentative credit to the current US strategy, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Thirty-six deaths have been reported in October, a lull ascribed to weapons-cache finds, the disruption of bombmaking cells, and the troop "surge" completed in May.
The organization of neighborhood-watch groups, the Anbar Awakening and Muqtada al-Sadr's pacification of his Mehdi army are also credited with the drop in violence. The trend signals a "window of opportunity" but not necessarily imminent victory: More troops have died in 2007 than in 2006. And gains are merely a prerequisite for the government coherence and economic opportunity necessary for sustainable peace.