36 Fatalities in May: Deadliest 2012 Month For U.S. Forces in Afghanistan War

June 1, 2012 - 4:40 PM

Casualty Return Afghanistan

An Army carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Spc. Vilmar Galarza Hernandez during a dignified transfer ceremony at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Sunday, May 27, 2012. According to the Department of Defense, Hernandez, of Salinas, Calif., died while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

(CNSNews.com) -- There were 36 U.S. military casualties in Afghanistan reported for the month of May, marking the deadliest month for American forces so far in 2012.

The American soldiers’ death toll in May brought the total U.S. fatalities since the war started in October 2001 to 1,881, including 124 this year alone. Last month was also the deadliest May of the conflict, meaning the highest number casualties during May since the war began (see below).

When compared to the same period in 2011, the military deaths during the first five months of this year have decreased by about 20 percent, from 152 to 124.

For the 1,881 deaths that have occurred so far during the course of the decade-old war, 1,312, or an estimated 70 percent, have taken place since Barack Obama was inaugurated in January 2009.

That means that about 7 out of every 10 U.S. military deaths in the Afghanistan conflict have taken place under President Obama’s watch.

The top-three deadliest years for American soldiers in Afghanistan have taken place under Obama: 2010 (497 deaths) was the worst, then 2011 (399 deaths),  and in third-place came 2009 (303 deaths).

Among the 303 deaths in 2009, 292 took place after Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20. 2009.

There have been at least 56 U.S. soldiers who have been killed by their Afghan counterparts since 2007 in what the Pentagon describes as “green on blue attacks.” Of those 56, at least 10 have taken place in the first five months of 2012.

CNSNews.com has been keeping track of green on blue attacks since March 22 when U.S. Gen. John Allen, the top-commander in Afghanistan, told  lawmakers that 52 U.S. soldiers, including six in 2012 as of the time he testified, had been killed by Afghan forces since the Pentagon began keeping track in 2007.

Obama Afghanistan

President Barack Obama arrives to address troops at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Wednesday, May 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Four more U.S. soldiers have been killed at the hands of their Afghan counterparts since Gen. Allen’s testimony in March, bringing the total to 56.

Throughout the war, the majority of deaths (about 90 percent) have been combat-related. Non-combat deaths are those that have occurred as a result of accidents, illnesses, drowning, or other non-combat incidents.

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), also known as homemade bombs, have been the number one killer of U.S. forces.

CNSNews.com’s detailed count of U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan is primarily derived from official casualty reports issued by the Department of Defense (DOD), augmented by information taken from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force-Afghanistan and media accounts.

The database includes all U.S. troops that died or were fatally injured in and around Afghanistan while supporting military efforts in Operation Enduring Freedom, which covers other countries besides Afghanistan.

CNSNews.com’s total count of U.S. fatalities in and around Afghanistan includes 12 U.S. troops who died in Pakistan and three who died in the Arabian Sea while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

The total death count of 1,881 as of the end of May 2012 could be slightly revised in the coming days, given the lag time in Defense Department (DOD) reporting. The DOD does not always reveal whether a military death is caused by “insider” attacks, which makes it difficult to fully track those fatalities.

The U.S. military casualties during the month of May by year since the Afghanistan war began are as follows:


May 2002: 1 casualty

2003: 1

2004: 8

2005: 4

2006: 11

2007: 11

2008: 16

2009: 12

2010: 34

2011: 34
2012: 36

The deadliest month of the war was August 2011 with 71 U.S. military fatalities.