KABUL – U.S. military deaths in the Afghan war have reached 2,000, a cold reminder of the human cost of an 11-year-old conflict that now garners little public interest at home as the United States prepares to withdraw most of its combat forces by the end of 2014.
The toll has climbed steadily in recent months with a spate of attacks by Afghan army and police — supposed allies — against American and NATO troops. That has raised troubling questions about whether countries in the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan will achieve their aim of helping the government in Kabul and its forces stand on their own after most foreign troops depart in little more than two years.
On Sunday, a U.S. official confirmed the latest death, saying that an international service member killed in an apparent insider attack by Afghan forces in the east of the country late Saturday was American. A civilian contractor with NATO and at least two Afghan soldiers also died in the attack, according to a coalition statement and Afghan provincial officials. The U.S. official spoke on condition of anonymity because the nationality of those killed had not been formally released. Names of the dead are usually released after their families or next-of-kin are notified, a process that can take several days. The nationality of the civilian was also not disclosed.
In addition to the 2,000 Americans killed since the Afghan war began on Oct. 7, 2001, at least 1,190 more coalition troops from other countries have also died, according to iCasualties.org, an independent organization that tracks the deaths.
According to the Afghanistan index kept by the Washington-based research centre Brookings Institution, about 40 per cent of the American deaths were caused by improvised explosive devices. The majority of those were after 2009, when President Barack Obama ordered a surge that sent in 33,000 additional troops to combat heightened Taliban activity. The surge brought the total number of American troops to 101,000, the peak for the entire war.