Attrition: Battlefield Losses Plummet

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December 9,2008: Last month, eleven U.S. military personnel died in combat (one in Afghanistan and ten in Iraq.) This is the lowest monthly deaths since before the Iraq invasion. It's the lowest death rate for Afghanistan since July 2002 (when there were no deaths.) For 2008, the monthly death toll (from combat) has averaged about 24. Since 2001, about a thousand foreign troops have died in Afghanistan, about a third of them from non-combat causes (usually vehicle accidents).

The sharp drop in NATO and U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan is attributed to the successful campaign against Taliban leadership. This has been going on for over a year, and has severely disrupted Taliban operations. In addition, Pakistan has been waging a major campaign against the Taliban just across the border, and this has caused some Afghan Taliban to move into Pakistan to help their fellow terrorists avoid getting destroyed. It's also the start of the Winter season, when the less well equipped (in terms of Winter clothing, air transportation and other gear necessary for cold weather operations) Taliban are at a disadvantage. The Taliban aren't out as much in the nasty weather, and NATO and U.S. troops can hunt the enemy at less risk to themselves.

Since the end of the Surge Offensive earlier this year, violence in Iraq has dropped over 80 percent, and remained low. Al Qaeda and other Sunni terrorist organizations have been defeated, and operations since then have concentrated on hunting down the diehard terrorists who appear determined to fight on until they are killed. Increased numbers, of better trained and led, Iraqi security forces have also taken a lot of the combat load off U.S. troops.

 


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