Almost three quarters of the 2,153 U.S. military fatalities in the 12-year-old Afghanistan war have taken place since Obama was first inaugurated, according to an Associated Press (AP) tally.
Using the AP’s Afghanistan casualties database, Breitbart News calculated that between January 20, 2009, and the end of last month 1,595 U.S. soldiers lost their lives in the Afghanistan conflict. The total number of military deaths so far is 2,153.
That means that about 74 percent of all U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan have taken place under Obama’s watch. During the eight years of the previous administration there were only 558 fatalities, or about 26 percent of the deaths that have taken place from October 7, 2001, the start of the war, to November 30, 2013.
No deaths had been reported for December 2013 at the time of this writing.
The information in the AP database is gleaned from AP news reports and confirmed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).
Since the names of the soldiers killed are not always released the same day the incident occurs, the total number of deaths could be higher than indicated in this report. There could be more deaths for November 2013 that have not been reported yet.
At least 1,416–close to 90 percent–of the 1,595 deaths under Obama are designated in the database as “action-related.” That means those soldiers were killed while supporting combat operations.
However, the database does not always reveal the exact cause of death. Some deaths remain under investigation by the DoD. Of the fatalities under Obama’s watch, 66 deaths are designated as “unknown” and 113 as “non-combat.”
Those 113 deaths refer to soldiers who lost their lives to illnesses and non-combat-related accidents.
There were three U.S. military fatalities in Pakistan in February 2010 involving soldiers who were supporting military activity in Afghanistan. Breitbart News excluded those deaths from all counts mentioned in this report. Those combat-related deaths would bring the count under Obama’s watch to 1,598 and the total number of soldiers killed since the start of the war to 2,156.
It is worth looking for a cause for the disproportionate number of deaths during Obama’s presidency. Obama escalated the U.S. presence in Afghanistan almost immediately upon taking office. He later endorsed a withdrawal plan that is well underway and which brings the NATO combat mission to a close at the end of 2014.
The U.S.-led international force is expected to transition security responsibilities to Afghanistan. A residual force of U.S. soldiers is to remain behind to continue training their Afghan counterparts and help them conduct counterterrorism operations.
The scope of that force has yet to be determined. U.S. officials have proposed keeping an estimated 8,000 soldiers, but Afghanistan has not yet signed a post-2014 bilateral security agreement with the U.S.
An estimated 47,000 U.S. soldiers remain in Afghanistan.
This year is shaping up to have the lowest death tally of any during Obama’s presidency. The 110 fatalities reported so far in 2013 are similar in number to those reported in 2007. Then there were a total of 110 U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan, followed by 151 in 2008. Those were the two highest casualty counts under President Bush.
Obama has presided over three of the highest annual counts of the 12-year-old Afghanistan conflict–2010 (492 deaths), 2011 (404 deaths), and 2012 (295 deaths).