Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No End in Sight for Rising Battlefield Deaths

Afghan War: Shocking Rise in US

Casualties, Lack of Reporting


By Tom Hayden

Huffington Post

Despite rhetoric about military patriots and wounded warriors, the White House, Pentagon and mainstream media have minimized attention to startling increases in Afghanistan deaths and casualties suffered by American troops since 2008.

US death tolls in Afghanistan have risen by 273 percent this spring in comparison to the same period in 2008.

There has been a 430 percent increase in Americans wounded in Afghanistan so far this year compared to the same period in 2009.

The facts are these, based on Department of Defense data:

As of today, June 8, the six-month US military death toll in Afghanistan has risen to 156, surpassing the 155 total for all of 2008.

These numbers more than doubled in the January-May period between 2009 and 2010: 61 dead in January-May 2009, 142 through May of this year.

American deaths, Jan.-May 2008-2010:

In January-May 2008, 38 Americans were killed in Afghanistan; 61 died in January-May 2009, an increase of 60 percent.

From January-May 2009 to January-May 2010 the toll rose from 61 to 142, or a one-year 132 percentage leap.

From January-May 2008 to January-May 2010 the leap of American deaths was from 38 to 142 in this year's first five months, a 273 percent increase.

Americans wounded in Afghanistan, Jan.-May 2008-2010:

Between January and the end of April of this year, 960 American troops suffered wounds in Afghanistan, up from 181 during the same time frame last year, a 430 percent increase.

Total US wounded in Afghanistan in all of 2008: 793.[Between Jan-April 2008: 107]

Total US wounded in Afghanistan in all of 2009: 2,131.[Between Jan.-April: 181]

US soldier suicides at 1,000, all-time high:

More US soldiers died from suicide in 2009 than were killed in either Afghanistan or Iraq. The suicide number was 334 for 2009, compared with 316 who died in Afghanistan and 149 in Iraq. The total from 2003-2009 was 923. According to the Houston Chronicle's unofficial count, there were 1,985 suicides from 2001 to 2009, including the Army, Army Reserve, Army National Guard, Navy, Navy Reserve, Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Marines and Coast Guard. At least 225 suicides have been added since the Chronicle's report of May 17, 2009.

Readers should note that these totals are based on US Pentagon figures, not including the present period of May-June 2010 when fighting in Afghanistan is intensifying.

Not Counted: Private Contractors:

US casualty figures do not include dead or wounded private contractors. The number of contractors dead are released only through the US Department of Labor, under an insurance program known as the Defense Base Act. According to the Congressional Research Service, from September 2001 to the end of September 2009, there were 1,987 contractor deaths covered by the DBA, 73.4 percent occurred in Iraq and 14.5 percent in Afghanistan. Of the 289 deaths in Afghanistan, nearly one-third [100] occurred in the final six months of 2009, a figure certain to rise.

Budgetary Costs:

According to Stiglitz-Bilmes "The Three Trillion Dollar War" [2008], the hidden costs of American casualties in terms of total medical, disability, and Social Security Disability costs for veterans of Afghanistan alone will be $422 billion [best case] and $717 billion [realistic-moderate case].

[research assistance, Wesley Saver, Peace and Justice Resource Center, Culver City]

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