U.S. troop fatalities in Iraq are on pace for a 16 percent increase from 2010; American deaths in Afghanistan over the last three months are up 7 percent from the same period in 2010.
President Barack Obama’s address to the nation on Afghanistan Wednesday evening came 1 year, 6 months, and 22 days since his address at West Point when he outlined his Afghanistan strategy that included a surge in troops (which began a few months later).
During his recent address, Obama made the following statement:
“We take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding. Fewer of our sons and daughters are serving in harm’s way.”
While it is true, of course, that there has been a net decline in the number U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan collectively, since, say, the peak of the Iraqi conflict, it is not the case that fewer Americans are being killed in recent months.
In Iraq, the number of American fatalities are on pace in 2011 to eclipse the death toll in 2010 – rising by one-sixth.
Last year, 60 U.S. personnel were killed in Iraq.
In 2011, already 33 have died, which projects out to 70 for the year.
(Note: Since the invasion in early 2003, an almost identical number of Americans have been killed in Iraq during the first six months of each year, 2,305, or 44.3 per month, as the last six months of the year, 2,158, or 44.9 per month).
The nine American deaths suffered during the first 22 days of June is the second largest monthly tally in Iraq since November 2009.
In Afghanistan, since the President’s December 2009 speech announcing the surge, there have been 704 U.S. fatalities, or an average of 1.24 per day.
During the same period of time prior to the surge announcement (569 days) there were 429 U.S. fatalities, or an average of 0.75 per day.
While there have been significantly more U.S. troops on the ground during the past year and a half, the President was not speaking in proportions Wednesday evening. The fact is American deaths are up 65.3 percent during this 18+ month span.
The short-term trend in Afghanistan has been even worse.
During the nearly three month period since April of this year, there have been 111 U.S. fatalities, or an average of 1.34 per day.
This is the highest U.S. fatality rate during the April through June period in the history of the 10-year Afghan conflict – up 7 percent from the same period in 2010 during the heart of the surge when an average of 1.25 Americans were being killed per day.
Unfortunately, despite the killing of Osama Bin Laden, recent trends in the loss of American lives in both Iraq and Afghanistan do not support the President’s optimistic characterization that “The tide of war is receding.”
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