After steady jumps over each of the past four years in the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan, 2011 brought a welcome decline. After peaking at 499 dead in 2010, last year ended with 418 killed, according to iCasualties.org.
The key question is what the reduction means. Some U.S. officers say the allied forces have broken the Taliban’s will to fight. Others suggest it’s due to tactical retreats by U.S. forces.
Since June, 10,000 U.S. troops have left Afghanistan. That leaves 91,000 still there. All international combat troops are slated to be out by 2015. Most soldiers will confide that no one wants to die while heading for the exits.