2010 Was By Far the Deadliest Year for U.S. Troops in Afghanistan—One American Killed Every 18 Hours

December 31, 2010 - 5:34 PM

Afghanistan casualties

The remains of Pfc. Jacob A. Gassen return to the country he died defending on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010 at Dover Air Force Base, Del. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

(CNSNews.com) - With 496 casualties, 2010 was by far the deadliest year for U.S. troops fighting a war in Afghanistan that has now entered its tenth year, according to casualty reports issued by the Department of Defense and tracked in a comprehensive database of war casualties maintained by CNSNews.com.

There were 303 U.S. casualties in the Afghanistan war in 2009, making 2009 the second deadliest year of the war.

Almost 17 times as many U.S. troops were killed in the Afghanistan war in 2010 as were killed in 2002, the first full calendar year of the war. In the past year, U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan were killed at a rate of about one every 18 hours.

Thus far, 1,357 U.S. armed services personnel have lost their lives in the war in Afghanistan. The year-by-year casualty count is as follows:

Year                Casualties

2001                5

2002                30

2003                31

2004                49

2005                94

2006                87

2007                111

2008                151

2009                303

2010                496

Of these 1,357 casualties, 1,344 were U.S. service personnel who died from fatal wounds received in Afghanistan or from accidents that occurred there during the war. The other 13 Afghanistan war casualties include one person who was killed in the Arabian Gulf in 2010 while supporting military operations in Afghanistan and 12 who were killed in Pakistan (2 in 2001, 7 in 2002 and 3 in 2010) while supporting military action in Afghanistan.

Of the 496 U.S. casualties in the Afghanistan war in 2010, 469 were combat-related deaths.

Since President Barack Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009, the U.S. has suffered 788 casualties in the Afghanistan war, which is 58 percent of the total casualties the U.S. has suffered in the war since it began in October 2001.

After arguing in his presidential campaign that President Bush had wrongly shifted the focus in the war on terror from Afghanistan to Iraq, Obama announced in December 2009 that he was escalating the U.S. deployment in Afghanistan by sending an additional 30,000 troops there.

Four of the five deadliest months for U.S. troops in Afghanistan have taken place since then. The five deadliest months since the start of the war in October 2001 have been:

Month                         Casualties

1. July 2010                 65

2. June 2010                60

3. Oct. 2009                58

4. Aug. 2010               55

5. Nov. 2010               53

Historically, most of the heavy fighting and thus most of the casualties, in Afghanistan has taken place during the summer months of June to September.  In 2010, however, November ended up being one of the deadliest months of the war.

CNSNews.com’s casualty database is derived primarily from official Defense Department casualty reports, but it also includes information gleaned from news media outlets. 

This year, President Obama and military officials have indicated that the process of withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan and transitioning the security lead over to Afghan forces is expected to last more than three years, and will begin in July 2011.

The commander of the U.S.-led NATO training mission in Afghanistan told CNSNews.com that coalition troops will remain in support of Afghan forces beyond 2014, but it remains uncertain how many U.S.-led NATO troops will remain in Afghanistan beyond then.

Nevertheless, Vice-President Joe Biden said on Dec. 19 that U.S. troops would exit Afghanistan by 2014 "come hell or high water."