A Majority of U.S. Combat Casualties in Nine-Year-Long Afghanistan War Have Occurred in Less Than Year-and-a-Half of Obama Presidency
Between Jan. 20, 2009 and July 2, 2010, according to CNSNews.com's database of Afghanistan war casualties, U.S. military personnel suffered 452 combat-related deaths in Afghanistan. That amounts to more than half of the total of 900 combat-related fatalities suffered by U.S. forces in Afghanistan during the entire nine years of the war.
To see a month-by-month chart of U.S. combat casualties in Afghanistan since October 2001 click here.
There have also been 40 non-combat related U.S. casualties in Afghanistan since Obama's inauguration, bringing the total U.S. casualties in the country to 492 during Obama's presidency. Non-combat fatalities include soldiers who have drowned or died from vehicle or other accidents.
Each of the top five deadliest months of the war, accounting for both combat and non-combat deaths, have taken place during Obama's term. Those five months were:
1. June 2010 (59 casualties).
2. October 2009 (58 casualties).
3. August 2009 (51 deaths)
4. July 2009 (43 deaths)
5. September 2009 (37 deaths)
In all of 2009, there were 303 U.S. casualties (combat and non-combat) in Afghanistan, making it the deadliest year of the war, which started in October 2001. However, there were 199 U.S. casualties reported in Afghanistan in the first half of 2010 (January through June). That is more than double the 84 U.S. casualties that occurred in Afghanistan during the first half of 2009.
Last year, President Obama ordered an escalation in the U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan. As a candidate, he had vowed to shift the focus of U.S. military operations in the Middle East from Iraq to Afghanistan. The president's current policy is to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan one year from now, in July 2011. About 42 percent of all combat and non-combat U.S. deaths have taken place since May 15, 2009, the day when troops from Obama’s first surge arrived in Afghanistan.
Speaking at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Dec. 2, 2009, Obama announced the deployment of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and said that in July 2011 he would begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan “taking into account conditions on the ground.”
Since then, the president has maintained his policy that a drawdown will begin in July 2011, emphasizing that the date will mark the beginning of a transition “process” where tasks will be transferred to the Afghan government and its security forces.
Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander of U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan, testified before Congress that the July 2011 drawdown date had not been recommended by him or any other military commander that he was aware of but that he agreed with it.
CNSNews.com’s casualty count is derived primarily from U.S. Defense Department casualty reports, but it also includes information gleaned from the news media
The count includes all U.S. military personnel who died or received fatal wounds in Afghanistan or Pakistan. It does not include U.S. soldiers who died outside of those two countries while supporting military efforts against terrorism under Operation Enduring Freedom, which includes multiple countries.