There have been 119 U.S. military fatalities in the Afghanistan war reported for 2013, a dramatic drop of about 60 percent from the 295 that occurred the previous year, according to an Associated Press count.
The 119 American deaths brought the overall total to 2,162 since U.S. troops were first deployed to Afghanistan more than 12 years ago on October 7, 2001, according to AP’s detailed Afghanistan casualties database.
Of the total 2,162 U.S. fatalities throughout the ongoing war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, 1,604 have died since Obama was inaugurated for his first term on January 20, 2009.
Obama escalated the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan soon after taking office. There have also been changes in rules of engagement under his presidency.
Almost three out of every four American deaths in Afghanistan have occurred under Obama’s watch. There have been almost three times more U.S. fatalities during the estimated five years of the current administration than under the eight years of the previous one.
The current decrease in American casualties comes during a year when Afghan forces took the lead for security across the country.
In June 2013, the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF), which includes the army and national police, assumed the lead of security responsibilities from the U.S./NATO-led international coalition known as the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Despite the drop in deaths, danger persists for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. There were nine U.S. military deaths in December, including a U.S. Air Force Captain who was killed by a suicide bomber last week in the Afghan capital of Kabul along with two other international service members.
According to the Pentagon’s official count, 1,788 U.S. soldiers have been killed in action and 19,541 have been wounded during the war.
The Pentagon showed that since the conflict began, 134 U.S. soldiers have been killed outside of Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom, the official name of the Afghanistan mission. Of those, only 11 have been killed in action.
The remaining 123 deaths are described as “non-hostile.”
Besides Afghanistan, the operation includes Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.
According to the Pentagon’s tally, there have been a total 2,297 U.S. military deaths under Operation Enduring Freedom, of which 1,799 have taken place during military action.
Furthermore, DoD reported that three Pentagon civilian deaths have taken place during the war, including one individual who was killed in action.
The AP count of U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan alone is one less than the one kept by the Pentagon.
Often it takes a couple of days for DoD, one of the primary sources for the AP casualty database, to officially and publicly report a death.
“Names of US service members who have died are entered only after their official release by the military. Since names are not always released immediately, the number of names in the database may not correspond to overall numbers of deaths reported by military authorities,” noted the AP database.
Yesterday, the AP reported that Afghan national forces suffered more casualties than U.S. and international troops combined in 2013. ANSF casualties went up to 2,767 last year from 1,870 in 2012.
Meanwhile, coalition casualties went down from 394 in 2012 to 151 last year. The AP noted that for 2013, the United Nations had recorded 2,730 civilian deaths and 5,169 wounded as of the end of November, marking a 10 percent increase from 2012.
Furthermore, the AP mentioned that “one significant change this year was a steep drop in the number of insider attacks, the so-called ‘green-on-blue’ incidents in which Afghan security turn on their NATO partners. Last year, attacks like this killed 53 coalition troops in 38 separate incidents. In 2013, there were 16 deaths in 10 separate insider attacks.”