Monday, February 15, 2010

...and counting...

(Occasional sobering thoughts.) It's been nearly 11 weeks since our last "...and counting..." post reported on President Barack Obama's plan to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Deployment done, this Presidents' Day brings news of NATO's "biggest Afghan offensive yet" against Taliban forces, a description echoed in Canada, Britain, and the United States.
Days before the operation dubbed "Mushtarak," or "Together," began, London's Independent reported:
The offensive is expected to see heavy casualties on both sides, with civilian casualties "inevitable".
The truth of the prediction was evident in early headlines from the field of a battle that combat leaders say may last 30 days: "NATO says its rockets killed 12 Afghan civilians," and "Two Allied Deaths in Marjah Highlight Risks."
Though those numbers doubtless are not yet included in official records, it seems appropriate to revisit the casualty count since our last post:
► According to ¶ 19 of the January 4, 2010, Report of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the Security Council, entitled "The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security,"
UNAMA recorded 784 conflict-related civilian casualties between August and October 2009, up 12 per cent from the same period in 2008. Anti-Government elements remain responsible for the largest proportion of civilian casualties (78 per cent of the total), of whom 54 per cent were victims of suicide and improvised explosive device attacks. The increased reliance of anti-Government elements on improvised explosive device attacks has demonstrated an apparent disregard for the loss of civilian life. However, it is encouraging to see that certain positive steps have continued to be taken by the Government and its international military partners to reduce the impact of military operations on the civilian population.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Defense reports that coalition military casualties in Afghanistan stand at 990 Americans, 258 Britons, and 391 other coalition servicemembers. That's an increase of 61, 22, and 24 casualties, respectively, in the last 11 weeks. The total coalition casualty count in the Afghanistan conflict is 1,639 service women and men.
► Respecting the conflict in Iraq, Iraq Body Count reports that between 95,315 and 103,997 Iraqi women, children, and men have died in the conflict in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, representing an increase of between 983 and 1,065 deaths in the last 11 weeks. According to the U.S. Defense Department, 4,376 American servicemembers have been killed in Iraq, representing 9 servicemember deaths in the last 11 weeks. (As posted, U.S. troops are the only foreign forces remaining in Iraq.)

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