A Third of All U.S. Casualties in Eight-Year Afghan War Have Occurred Since Obama Ordered Escalation
February 23, 2010 - 8:00 PMApproximately 308 U.S. soldiers have died in the war in Afghanistan since May 15, 2009, the day when the first major wave of troops ordered by President Barack Obama arrived in the southern region of the country.
The 308 U.S. casualties in Afghanistan since then account for about a third of the total of 920 U.S. casualties in the eight-year war.
Of the 308 soldiers who have died since mid-May 2009, 287 were killed by enemy action, according to a CNSNews.com database of all casualties in the Afghanistan theatre of war.
The southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar located along the Afghan border with Pakistan have been the deadliest regions for U.S. soldiers since President Obama's escalation in U.S. forces in the region began.
Approximately 81 U.S. soldiers have died in combat in Helmand and 58 in Kandahar, for a total of 139 in those two provinces. That is about 45 percent of the U.S. casualties in Afghanistan since May 15 of last year.
On Feb. 17, 2009, President Obama ordered the deployment of 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. The main body of those troops arrived in Kandahar on May 15, 2009.
In December 2009, Obama stepped up his surge with 30,000 more troops, bringing the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan to more than 100,000.
Last year was the deadliest for American soldiers since the U.S.-led military effort in Afghanistan began in October 2001. CNSNews.com’s database of Afghanistan war casualties is derived primarily from official U.S. Defense Department casualty reports, but also includes information gleaned from reports in the news media.
The database includes all U.S. military personnel who died or received a fatal wound in Afghanistan or Pakistan. It does not include U.S. miltary personnel who died outside of Afghanistan while supporting military efforts against terrorism under Operation Enduring Freedom.
On Feb.13, the United States started a major operation in central Helmand, a Taliban stronghold. It is focused on the city of Marjah, which has about 80,000 inhabitants.
The operation, known as Mushtarak, which means "together" in Dari, involves 15,000 U.S.-led NATO and Afghan soldiers, with Afghan soldiers making up at least half of the offensive force.
In a Feb. 21 speech at Princeton University, Army Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander overseeing troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, predicted a “tough” casualty level resulting from the initiative.
"We've gotten the inputs right, now we are embarking on what's going to be the output," he said. "The reality is, it's going to be hard, it's going to be hard all the time. We're going to have tough losses."
So far, there have been 14 reported casualties from battles in Helmand since Operation Mushtarak started.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Gen. Petraeus indicated that the Marjah operation is the “initial salvo” of a bigger 12-to-18-month campaign.
Using the Marjah operation as an example, the general pointed out that the flow of the 30,000 troops that Obama ordered last December is beginning to produce “output.”
When announcing his troop surge last December, President Obama mentioned that troops will begin to draw down in July 2011. However, military officials have indicated that this will depend on conditions on the ground.