US military deaths in Afghanistan hit 2,000; Afghan deaths pass 20,000
October 1, 2012
U.S. military deaths in the Afghan war have reached 2,000, a cold reminder of the human cost of an 11-year-old conflict that now garners little public interest at home as the United States prepares to withdraw most of its combat forces by the end of 2014.
The toll has climbed steadily in recent months with a spate of attacks by Afghan army and police — supposed allies — against American and NATO troops. That has raised troubling questions about whether countries in the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan will achieve their aim of helping the government in Kabul and its forces stand on their own after most foreign troops depart in little more than two years.
On Sunday, a U.S. official confirmed the latest death, saying that an international service member killed in an apparent insider attack by Afghan forces in the east of the country late Saturday was American. A civilian contractor with NATO and at least two Afghan soldiers also died in the attack, according to a coalition statement and Afghan provincial officials. The U.S. official spoke on condition of anonymity because the nationality of those killed had not been formally released. Names of the dead are usually released after their families or next-of-kin are notified, a process that can take several days. The nationality of the civilian was also not disclosed.
In addition to the 2,000 Americans killed since the Afghan war began on Oct. 7, 2001, at least 1,190 more coalition troops from other countries have also died, according to iCasualties.org, an independent organization that tracks the deaths.
According to the Afghanistan index kept by the Washington-based research center Brookings Institution, about 40 percent of the American deaths were caused by improvised explosive devices. The majority of those were after 2009, when President Barack Obama ordered a surge that sent in 33,000 additional troops to combat heightened Taliban activity. The surge brought the total number of American troops to 101,000, the peak for the entire war.
According to Brookings, hostile fire was the second most common cause of death, accounting for nearly 31 percent of Americans killed.
Tracking deaths of Afghan civilians is much more difficult. According to the U.N., 13,431 civilians were killed in the Afghan conflict between 2007, when the U.N. began keeping statistics, and the end of August. Going back to the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, most estimates put the number of Afghan civilian deaths in the war at more than 20,000.
The US-led coalition still has 108,000 troops in Afghanistan, 68,000 from the US.
The war began on Oct. 7, 2001. Here are some actions planned for the 11 year anniversary. Have some to add? Let us know.
Spinning Afghanistan, America’s longest war
According to a military whistleblower, army leaders are practising a deception on the US public about this unwinnable war
Eight youths, tending their flock of sheep in the snowy fields ofAfghanistan, were exterminated last week by a Nato airstrike. They were in the Najrab district of Kapisa province in eastern Afghanistan. Most were reportedly between the ages of 6 and 14. They had sought shelter near a large boulder, and had built a fire to stay warm.
At first, Nato officials claimed they were armed men. The Afghan government condemned the bombing and released photos of some of the victims. By Wednesday, Nato offered, in a press release, “deep regret to the families and loved ones of several Afghan youths who died during an air engagement in Kapisa province Feb 8.”
Those eight killed were not that different in age from Lance Cpl Osbrany Montes De Oca, 20, of North Arlington, New Jersey. He was killed two days later, 10 February, while on duty in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. These nine young, wasted lives will be the latest footnote in the longest war in United States history, a war that is being perpetuated, according to one brave, whistleblowing US Army officer, through a “pattern of overt and substantive deception” by “many of America’s most senior military leaders in Afghanistan”.
Those are the words written by Lt Col Danny Davis in his 84-page report,“Dereliction of Duty II: Senior Military Leaders’ Loss of Integrity Wounds Afghan War Effort” (pdf). A draft of that report, dated 27 January 2012, was obtained by Rolling Stone magazine. It has not been approved by the US Army public affairs office for release, even though Davis writes that its contents are not classified. He has submitted a classified version to members of Congress.