Here’s an eye-opener: the number of U.S. troops killed in action in Afghanistan in August — 61 so far, according to the independent iCasualties.org — is more than the total who died in the first three years of the war: 59.
In fact, the deaths of 30 U.S. troops — including 17 Navy SEALs — shot down in their CH-47 Chinook helicopter August 6 has made this month the most deadly for U.S. troops in the decade-long war:
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — August has become the deadliest month for U.S. troops in the nearly 10-year-old war in Afghanistan, where international forces have started to go home and let Afghan forces take charge of securing their country. A record 66 U.S. troops have died so far this month, eclipsing the 65 killed in July 2010, according to a tally by The Associated Press.
It’s important to point out there are several ways to count the deaths of U.S. troops, and their allies, lost in Operation Enduring Freedom:
The lowest number — the one the AP is using — is for U.S. troops killed in action within Afghanistan. These regularly updated charts from iCasualties.org confirm the AP conclusion, if not its numbers: this month is going to be the deadliest so far, eclipsing the 54 killed in both July and August of last year (the AP and iCasualties.org numbers differ because of different levels of verification required before adding casualties to their lists).
But when you add our allies to the toll, the picture changes. June 2010’s 84 KIAs top this month’s 76 (to date).
Back to U.S. deaths only: if you include non-hostile deaths — everything from vehicle accidents to heart attacks — last July’s 65 edges this month’s 64.
If you tally up all U.S. deaths stemming from Operation Enduring Freedom — which includes those who die after being transported to medical facilities in Germany or the U.S. — August is tied with July 2010, at 65.
When you combined all deaths in all places among all allies connected to the Afghan war, both June 2010 (at 103, the deadliest month for the allies to date) and July 2010 (88) exceed this month’s toll of 82.
The bottom line is pretty straightforward: the death toll is rising. While the numbers of enemy and civilian dead are elusive, they are in the thousands, and perhaps the tens of thousands. All told, 2,698 allied troops have died, including 1,752 Americans (1,390 of whom were killed in action). Show of hands: who would have thought when this conflict began that the deadliest month would have been on the eve of the 10th anniversary of its beginning?