Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

Featured Posts        





U.S. Troop Deaths Soar in Afghanistan in 2009

Dec. 31, 2009

KABUL — U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan doubled in 2009 compared with a year ago as 30,000 additional troops began pouring in for a stepped-up offensive and the Taliban fought back with powerful improvised bombs.

A tally by The Associated Press shows 304 American service members had died as of Dec. 30, up from 151 in 2008. The count does not include eight U.S. civilians killed by a suicide bomber on a base in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Also, the annual death toll of international troops, including U.S. forces, surpassed 500 for the first time in the war. The total this year was 502 compared with 286 in 2008, according to the AP count.

Among other forces, Britain took the worst blow in 2009 with 107 deaths and Canada lost 32, including four who died Wednesday when their vehicle was blown up by a roadside bomb. Other countries in the international military operation lost a total of 59 service members. …

In contrast, U.S. deaths in Iraq dropped by half as troops largely remained on bases and the United States prepares to withdraw from that country by the end of 2011. There, 152 American service members died, down from 314 a year earlier, according to figures compiled by the AP from U.S. Defense Department information. …

Afghan civilian deaths are more difficult to track, but according to the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, 2,021 were killed in the first 10 months of the year, nearly 1,400 of them by insurgents and 465 by U.S. and other pro-government forces.

Over the past eight years, at least 933 U.S. service members have died in the military campaign that was launched in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to U.S. Defense Department figures that include deaths in Pakistan, Uzbekistan and support operations elsewhere. …

The AP count, based on daily reports from NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, found that 129 of the U.S. fatalities in 2009 — or more than 40 percent — were caused by IEDs. …

The Taliban were slower than Iraqi insurgents to adopt IEDs, but they now appear to be the weapon of choice against the Americans’ superior artillery and armored vehicles, said a senior intelligence official with the international force. …

There were more than 7,000 IED incidents in 2009 — including explosions, the discovery and defusing of the bombs or civilians turning them in — compared to just 81 in 2003, the official said. …

1/4/10 Update

Afghan Roadside Bombing Kills 4 U.S. Troops

Jan. 4, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan — A roadside bombing killed four U.S. service members, the first American combat deaths of the year in Afghanistan, while a British soldier died during a foot patrol elsewhere in the volatile south of the country, officials said Monday.

The deaths are the first U.S. fatalities from hostile action in Afghanistan this year. One U.S. service member has died of noncombat causes so far in 2010. …

Afghan insurgents are increasingly turning to improvised explosive devices — also called roadside bombs — in their fight against Afghan and international forces. Of the 304 U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan last year, 129 were due to IEDs, according to a tally by The Associated Press. …


Pakistan Taliban Claim Responsibility for CIA Attack

More activity, more risks (NBC Nightly News, Jan. 1, 2010) – NBC’s Jim Maceda has new information about the seven CIA employees killed in Afghanistan, including details about why the bomber was invited inside the U.S. base there. (01:49)

Jan. 1, 2010

MIR ALI, Pakistan — The Pakistani Taliban claimed Friday that they used a turncoat CIA operative to carry out a suicide bombing that killed seven American CIA employees in Afghanistan as revenge for a top militant leader’s death in a U.S. missile strike. …

The suicide bomber struck the CIA’s operation at Camp Chapman in eastern Khost province on Wednesday. The base was used to direct and coordinate CIA operations and intelligence gathering in Khost, a hotbed of insurgent activity because of its proximity to Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas, former CIA officials said. Among the seven killed was the chief of the operation, they said. …

Qari Hussain, a top militant commander with the Pakistani Taliban who is believed to be a suicide bombing mastermind, said militants had been searching for a way to damage the CIA’s ability to launch missile strikes on the Pakistani side of the border.

The U.S. has launched scores of such missile attacks in the tribal regions over the past year and a half, aiming for high-value al-Qaida and other militant targets; one strike killed former Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in August.

Hussain said a “CIA agent” contacted Pakistani Taliban commanders and said he’d been trained by the agency to take on militants but that he was willing to attack the U.S. intelligence operation on the militants’ behalf. He did not specify the nationality of the “agent.” …

Invited and not searched

Bomber in CIA attack not searched (MSNBC, Jan. 1, 2010) — The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA employees at a remote outpost in Afghanistan had been invited onto the base and was not searched at checkpoints. NBC’s Jim Maceda reports. (02:10)

Two former U.S. officials told the AP that the bomber had been invited onto the base and not searched. One official, a former senior intelligence employee, said the man was being courted as an informant and that it was the first time he had been brought inside the camp. …

The Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan Taliban are separate, though linked, insurgent movements. The Afghan Taliban are focused on ridding Afghanistan of Western troops and toppling the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, while the Pakistani Taliban are primarily determined to overthrow the U.S.-allied government in Islamabad. …

1/4/10 Update

Al-Qaida double-agent killed CIA officers

CIA Zawahiri team decimated

Report: U.S. spy effort in Afghanistan ‘clueless’ (Reuters, Jan. 4, 2010) – The U.S. military’s intelligence chief in Afghanistan sharply criticized the work of U.S. spy agencies there on Monday, calling them ignorant and out of touch with the Afghan people. In a report issued by the Center for New American Security think tank, Major General Michael Flynn, deputy chief of staff for intelligence in Afghanistan for the U.S. military and its NATO allies, offered a bleak assessment of the intelligence community’s role in the 8-year-old war. …


Death Toll in Bombing at Volleyball Game at 88


The Associated Press and Reuters via MSNBC
Jan. 1, 2010

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A suicide bomber blew himself up in an SUV at an outdoor volleyball tournament in northwest Pakistan on Friday, killing 88 people in a village that opposes Taliban insurgents, police said.

The bomber struck as young men played volleyball in front of a crowd of spectators, including elderly residents and children, near the town of Lakki Marwat, officials said. …

Local police chief Ayub Khan said the bomber blew himself up in his sport utility vehicle in the middle of the field. A second vehicle was believed to have fled the scene.

“We have removed all bodies and wounded from the rubble,” Khan said, adding that 88 people were killed.

Express 24/7, a Pakistani TV channel, said 65 people were wounded and more than 20 homes destroyed in the surrounding neighborhood.

The blast occurred near Pakistan’s tribal belt, and was the latest bloodshed to rattle the country since the army launched a military offensive against Taliban fighters in the South Waziristan tribal region. The operation has scattered insurgents but provoked apparent reprisal attacks that have killed more than 500 people since October. …

Police: Elders’ meeting was target

Khan said an anti-Taliban meeting of local tribal elders in a mosque close to where the tournament was being held was the real target of the attack, but the driver failed to reach it.

Revenge attack? (NBC Nightly News, Jan. 1, 2010) – A suicide bomber detonated 500 pounds of explosives at a volleyball game in Lakki Marwat, killing at least 88. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk reports. (02:38)

The bomber set off some 550 pounds of explosives loaded in the car at the field, which lies in a congested neighborhood, Khan said.

Police official Tajammal Shah said eight children, six paramilitary troops and two police were among the dead.

Omar Gull, 35, a paramilitary soldier who was wounded, said the attacker drove the vehicle recklessly into the crowd. “People were just trying to understand what’s happening when the bomb went off,” he said. “It was then chaos. It was smoke, dust and cries.”

Another police official, Habib Khan, said some 300 people were on the field when the incident took place.

Suspected U.S. missile kills 3

Also Friday, a suspected U.S. missile struck a car carrying alleged militants in North Waziristan tribal region, killing three men, two intelligence officials said. It was the second such strike in less than a day.

The strikes are part of the U.S. campaign to eliminate high-value militant targets that use Pakistan as a safe haven to plan attacks in neighboring Afghanistan and on the West. …

1/2/10 Update

Pakistan Death Toll in Bombing Nears 100

Image: Destroyed homes
Residents of Shah Hassan Khail, Pakistan, on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2009 search the rubble of several dozen homes destroyed in the suicide blast the previous day that killed at least 96 people. (Photo credit: Ijaz Muhammad / AP)

Jan. 2, 2010

SHAH HASAN KHEL, Pakistan — Tribal elders in a Pakistani village where a suicide car bomber killed nearly 100 people insisted Saturday that residents will keep defying the Taliban, even as the bloodshed laid bare the risks facing the citizens’ militias that make up a key piece of Pakistan’s arsenal against extremism.

The New Year’s Day attack on the northwest village of Shah Hasan Khel was one of the deadliest in a surge of bombings that has killed more than 600 across Pakistan since October. Police believe the attacker meant to detonate his 550 pounds of explosives at a meeting of tribesmen who supervise an anti-Taliban militia. Instead, the blast went off at a nearby outdoor volleyball court, killing at least 96 people.

The explosion leveled some three dozen mud-brick homes and covered the village with dust, smoke and the smell of burning flesh. …

Shah Hasan Khel lies in Lakki Marwat district near South Waziristan, where the army has been waging an offensive against the Pakistani Taliban since October. The military operation was undertaken with the backing of the U.S., which is eager for Pakistan to free its tribal belt of militants believed to be involved in attacks on Western troops in Afghanistan.

But the offensive has provoked apparent reprisal attacks across the country. Those behind the strikes appear increasingly willing to hit targets beyond security forces. No group claimed responsibility for Friday’s blast, but that is not uncommon when many civilians die. …

The attack was one of the deadliest in years in Pakistan, and the second deadliest since the latest wave of bloodshed began in October. A car bomb killed 112 people at a crowded market in Peshawar on Oct. 28. … Full report


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — January 1, 2009

2008: Reversal of Fortune

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that U.S. military deaths in Iraq plummeted by two-thirds in 2008 from the previous year, while the war in Afghanistan saw American military deaths rise by 35 percent in 2008 as Islamic extremists shifted their focus to a new front with the West.

One Response to “U.S. Military Deaths Double in 2009”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » One American Dead Every 18 Hours in Afghanistan Says:

    […] U.S. Military Deaths in Afghanistan Double in 2009 […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.