2005 July 08 Friday
US Death Rate In Afghanistan Doubles

Bryan Bender of the Boston Globe reports on a doubling of US soldier death rates in Afghanistan in the first half of 2005.

WASHINGTON -- This year has been the deadliest for US troops in Afghanistan since war began in late 2001, as more American soldiers have died than in each of the previous three years, according to military figures. The statistics signal that well-armed Taliban and Al Qaeda militants holed up in caves, tribal villages, and craggy peaks along the border with Pakistan will remain a threat to the new Afghan government for years and require US troops, now numbering 18,000, to remain indefinitely, according to regional specialists. In the first half of this year, at least 54 Americans lost their lives, compared with 52 in all of last year, according to official statistics reviewed by the Globe.

Did the shift of US intelligence and special forces and other military assets away from Afghanistan into Iraq give the Taliban and Al Qaeda a better chance to regroup? Is the higher casualty rate in Afghanistan a reflection of neglect caused by the Iraq war? Or was the resurgence of the Taliban based on Pakistan inevitable in any case?

Some military sources say the higher casualty rate comes from a higher number of US military patrols into more remote locations.

Military officials and Afghan specialists say the rise in attacks is partly because of a more aggressive US and Afghan strategy to flush out remaining pockets of Taliban fighters and their Al Qaeda allies who used Afghanistan as a training base throughout the 1990s. In the first year of the US occupation, the United States maintained a military presence of only about 8,000 troops; it now has 18,000 troops and has expanded the number of patrols and community reconstruction teams to more remote areas where the Taliban is believed to operate.

But the article goes on to state that improvised explosive devices (IEDS) usage is way up and more attacks are being launched by the Taliban and their allies. The article also claims more support for the Taliban is coming from Pakistan.

The 78 Americans killed in Iraq in June 2005 nearly equalled the 80 killed in May. The death toll there shows no sign of decreasing. Arguments that the insurgents have responded to the hardening of US targets by shifting their attention toward Iraqi forces and Iraqi civilians miss the obvious point that US casualty rates have not declined. Therefore the increase in deaths of Iraqi military, police, government officials, and civilians come on top of a continued high level of deaths of American soldiers. This means the insurgency in Iraq has become more effective.

The US military is overstretched trying to handle both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 July 08 04:44 PM  Military War Costs

Harry said at July 8, 2005 11:01 PM:

"Did the shift of US intelligence and special forces and other military assets away from Afghanistan into Iraq give the Taliban and Al Qaeda a better chance to regroup? Is the higher casualty rate in Afghanistan a reflection of neglect caused by the Iraq war?"

I suspect you're right, and this has always been one of my major criticisms of the Iraq War-- it diverted us away from taking on al-Qaida in Afghanistan (while, of course, giving al-Qaida a new front in Iraq, where previously the secularist Baathist Saddam had been shutting down the Islamists like Osama bin Laden). Now the chickens are coming home to roost, with a vengeance.

There's a major irony of the neocons' utter failure with the Iraq diversion-- the neocons' big hobbyhorse is making Israel the regional hegemon, and it's clear that they made the push into Iraq using a spurious series of arguments falsely linking Saddam to the 9/11 attacks when, ironically enough, the secular Saddam and the USA had a common enemy in bin Laden. (The overthrow of Saddam's secular Baathist government in Iraq was one of bin Laden's major objectives, and the US did it for him!) The neocons pushed for the Iraq War because, while the Islamists among al-Qaida (and based in the Gulf States) were a major threat to the US, the secular Baathists in Iraq were little danger to the USA and Europe but-- in the neocons' eyes-- a potential regional danger to Israel. (The Islamists in contrast were less of a danger to Israel than to the US and Europe, which they saw as neo-colonizers of the Persian Gulf.) So the neocons used the cover and confusion of 9/11 to distract the US leadership from the real threat of al-Qaida and redirect the US to fight the Likudniks' perceived enemy of Saddam Hussein.

Yet the neocons' gambit has failed catastrophically in all respects, not only further endangering the US and Europe-- as we all suspected-- but probably making things much more dangerous for Israel as well since, unforeseen by the neoconservatives, Iraq has been drawn closely into the orbit of Iran, by far Israel's most powerful and dangerous foe. It's interesting that quite a few reporters in the more astute Israeli journals, like Haaretz, recognized precisely this potential catastrophe back in 2003 and urged Feith, Wolfowitz, Wurmser, Perle and the others to think twice about the Iraq invasion. But the neocons unsurprisingly had their heads up their own rear ends and refused to pay attention to the warnings in Haaretz (with some of the comments coming from Israeli officers who clearly knew what they were talking about!). So the neocons have pulled off a hat trick of utter failure: 1. Embroiling the US, Britain, Poland and the other Coalition members in a quagmire of almost certain and severe defeat in Iraq. 2. Distracting the US and UK from the crucial effort in Afghanistan-- enabling al-Qaida to slip away-- while removing a secular Baathist enemy of al-Qaida (Saddam Hussein) in Iraq, turning Iraq into a new terrorist training ground and directly augmenting the terrorist threat to the US and European countries. 3. Driving Iraq into the waiting arms of Iran, by far Israel's strongest and most determined enemy, and thus failing even in their primary objective (which was to protect Israel from armies in the Persian Gulf-- they admitted so much in "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," the paper by Feith and Perle from 1996).

With Iran now in control of much of Iraq's resources and running much of its politics (at least in the Shiite regions), and with Iran's further power over Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Shiites in Saudi Arabia, the neocons have created a Persian monster that is the most powerful threat to both the US and Israel in the region. Indeed, historically the Persian (Parthian) Empire was the Roman Empire's most dangerous foe other than the Germans in the north, and it was the Parthian's who crushed Marcus Crassus's invasion in the 1st century B.C. Now history is probably about to repeat itself, with the new Parthians poised to make serious trouble for the new Rome of the 21st century. And the neocons virtually gave this to the Iranians in a gift-wrapped package. It's one of the USA's worst foreign policy blunders ever, right up there with Vietnam, US entry into WWI in 1917, Custer's attack on the Sioux in the 1840's, and of course the invasion of Canada during the War of 1812.

M.robinson said at July 23, 2005 7:57 AM:

currently the Us forces are concentrated around Kandahar and Kabul airports, because the planners know too well what happened to the soviets. To hunt for Osama and his group menbers the US army will have to move more out o their camps and as they do, then the 'taliban' or other afghan groups will strike. The Pathans(majority afghan tribal group) do not like invaders(whether muslim or non muslim) and will keep on ighting the invaders.

The Taliban was helped and financed by the USA, saudi Arabia and Britain , with Pakistan being used as the transit point of Taleban power.
Our british government was still training taleban's a few months prior to take over of aghanistan.
The Puppet regime of Karzai in afghanistan will last much less than the communist puppet regime of najibullah(he was hanged by the mujahideen.

By the way did you know that Karzai was an employee of halliburton, and was quite high in the south asia division of the company.

As of the Neo -cons , the vast majority of them are either Zionists or zionist sympathisers, i recall Mr.Pearl making the case for war like a rabid dog.

Thats why i say you americans allow your nation to be used as a tool for the service of Israel.

Randall Parker said at July 23, 2005 10:59 AM:


You need to get your conspiracy theories straight. Other conspiracy theorists (e.g. Michael Moore) claim Karzai worked for Unocal or was at least a consultant to Unocal. So what was it then, Unocal or Halliburton?

No, the Taliban was not financed by the United States. US food aid was distributed through other organizations that bypassed the Taliban government.

You just make stuff up or pass along nonsense made up by other anti-American conspiracy theorists.

Randall Parker said at July 23, 2005 11:02 AM:

Oh, and are wrong about US forces in Afghanistan: US troops are getting airlifted and driving to wherever they think there are Taliban and hunting them down. No, they are not isolated to a few based.

To anyone else who reads this: "M.Robinson" is probably living in Britain but is of South Asian Muslim descent. Or he could be a native British convert to Islam.

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