(CNSNews.com) – At least 858 U.S. soldiers have died in the Afghanistan war since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009. That equals 60 percent of the 1,427 American soldiers killed so far in the 10-year war in that country.
In March 2011, there were 26 U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan, including 4 non-combat related fatalities. That brought the total combat and non-combat deaths for 2011 (January, February, and March) to 70. Those fatalities include 57 combat-related deaths and 13 non-combat deaths.
Of the 858 U.S. deaths since Obama’s inauguration, 791 have been combat-related. This means that for the 1,241 combat-related deaths that occurred since the Afghanistan war began in October 2001, about 64 percent happened in the two years since Obama took office.
Last year was the deadliest for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, with 497 combat and non-combat fatalities. Improvised explosive devices (IEDs), or homemade bombs, continue to be the number one killer of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
The Afghan provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, which border Pakistan and have been the central focus of U.S. military operations in recent years, continue to be the deadliest regions for American soldiers.
CNSNews.com’s database of U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan is derived from Department of Defense (DOD) news releases and various media accounts.
The database includes American troops who died in and around Afghanistan while supporting military efforts against terrorism under Operation Enduring Freedom. That operation was launched on Oct. 7, 2001 to topple the Taliban regime and pursue al Qaeda after it used Afghanistan as a base for the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States.
More than 40 troop-contributing countries are involved in the campaign under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, commanded by U.S. Army General David Petraeus.
In addition to those who died in Afghanistan, CNSNews.com’s database includes some Americans who died in Pakistan and others who died in the Arabian Sea while supporting operations in Afghanistan.
Gen. Petraeus testified before members of Congress last month that U.S. troops are on track to begin withdrawing in July 2011, although he did no specify the scope of the withdrawal.
The Obama administration has said it is committed to having Afghan forces in the lead of their own security by 2014 and has added that it will maintain a long-term relationship with Afghanistan.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai last month announced the areas that are ready to be transitioned to his country’s forces.
Nevertheless, Gen. Petraeus and a top-Pentagon official have indicated that they would be open to maintaining jointly-operated military bases in Afghanistan beyond 2014.