U.S. adjusting tactics in Iraq after copters downed

This is a bad sign.  The introduction of more sophisticated weapons, plus the inteligece compononent evident in the hostage taking incident last week point to a more ardent participation by the Iranians.  With Congressional calls to ‘redeploy’, Iran is postioning itself within the Iraqi majority.  This will get much, mcuh worse before it gets better. 

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The U.S. military is adjusting its tactics in Iraq after four helicopters were shot down over the past two weeks, U.S. military spokesman Major General William Caldwell said on Sunday.

Caldwell said the helicopters had been shot down in four separate incidents in which 21 U.S. servicemen and private security contractors were killed, confirming earlier witness reports and leaks from within the U.S. military.

Dozens of U.S. helicopters have come down, some of them hit by missiles or gunfire, in four years of fighting. But the unusually high number of helicopters lost in such a short time had raised questions about whether militants had changed tactics or were using more sophisticated weapons.

“There has been an ongoing effort to target our helicopters,” Caldwell told reporters in Baghdad “We have had four helicopters shot down … It appears they were all the result of some kind of ground fire.”

He said the incidents were still under investigation, but in the meantime U.S. helicopters were changing they way they flew in support of Iraqi and American troops.

“Based on what we’ve seen, we are already adjusting our tactics and procedures in how we deploy our helicopters,” Caldwell said.

The U.S. military relies heavily on helicopters to transport its troops or launch air strikes against suspected militants holed up in buildings.

A Black Hawk helicopter carrying 12 U.S. soldiers and crew crashed northeast of Baghdad on January 20, amid suggestions that it had been brought down by a shoulder-fired missile.

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