In the more than twelve years that have passed since U.S. troops first entered Afghanistan with the aim of removing al Qaeda from its sanctuary there, 2,162 U.S. service personnel have given their lives in and around Afghanistan in support of U.S. military activities in that country.
1,593 of those 2,162 U.S. casualties—or 73.7 percent—have occurred since Feb. 17, 2009, when Obama announced the first of his multiple increases in U.S. military personnel deployed to Afghanistan.
“To meet urgent security needs, I approved a request from Secretary Gates to deploy a Marine Expeditionary Brigade later this spring and an Army Stryker Brigade and the enabling forces necessary to support them later this summer,” Obama said on Feb. 17, 2009.
“This increase is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires,” said Obama.
According to the Congressional Research Service, there were 32,800 U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan in January 2009, when Obama entered office. In February 2009, the U.S. deployment increased to 35,900. By December 2009, the U.S. forces in Afghanistan had increased to 69,000. And, by September 2010, they had increased to 98,000.
Obama announced a second increase in the U.S. forces in Afghanistan on March 27, 2009.
“For three years, the resources that our commanders need for training have been denied because of the war in Iraq. Now, this will change,” said a White House statement issued that day. “The 17,000 additional troops that the president decided in February to deploy have already increased our training capacity. Later this spring we will deploy approximately 4,000 more U.S. troops to train the Afghan National Security Forces so that they can increasingly take responsibility for the security of the Afghan people.”
1,575 of the U.S. casualties in Afghanistan—or 72.8 percent–have taken place since that March 27, 2009 announcement.
On Dec. 1, 2009, Obama spoke at West Point, announcing yet another increase in the troops deployed to Afghanistan. In that speech, he also announced he would begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July 2011.
“When I took office, we had just over 32,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan, compared to 160,000 in Iraq at the peak of the war,” Obama said at West Point. “Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive. And that’s why, shortly after taking office, I approved a longstanding request for more troops.”
“And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan,” Obama said.
“Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011,” said Obama.
Since he gave that Dec. 1, 2009 speech at West Point, another 1,323 U.S. service personnel have been killed in Afghanistan. They equaled 61.2 percent of all U.S. casualties in the more-than-twelve-year-long war.
Since July 13, 2011, when Obama began to draw down the number of troops Afghanistan, 608 U.S. military personnel have been killed there. They represent 28.1 percent of the casualties in the more-than-twelve-year-long war.
In 2013, the second full calendar year after President Obama began drawing down his increased number of troops in Afghanistan, 119 U.S. military personnel were killed in that country.
As of August 2013, according to NATO, there were still 60,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan–27,200 more than the 32,800 who were there when Obama took office.
In the Washington Post on Tuesday, Bob Woodward described a scene in a book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates that will be released next week.
Writes Woodward: “At a March 3, 2011, National Security Council meeting, Gates writes, the president opened with a ‘blast.’ Obama criticized the military for ‘popping off in the press’ and said he would push back hard against any delay in beginning the withdrawal.
“According to Gates,” Woodward continues, “Obama concluded, ‘If I believe I am being gamed . . .’ and left the sentence hanging there with the clear implication the consequences would be dire.”
Woodward reported: “Gates continues: ‘I was pretty upset myself. I thought implicitly accusing’ Petraeus, and perhaps Mullen and Gates himself, ‘of gaming him in front of thirty people in the Situation Room was inappropriate, not to mention highly disrespectful of Petraeus. As I sat there, I thought: the president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand [Afghanistan President Hamid] Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.’”
Since that March 3, 2011 National Security Council meeting, 775 U.S. military personnel have been killed in Afghanistan. They equal 35.8% of all U.S. casualties in the war.
CNSNews.com’s database of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan is based on official Department of Defense casualty announcements, with additional information drawn from media accounts.
In addition to U.S. personnel mortally wounded in Afghanistan itself, the casualty database also includes four U.S. military personnel who died on board ships while supporting U.S. actions in Afghanistan and 12 who died in Pakistan.