82 Percent of U.S. Casualties in Afghanistan in 2010 Occurred in Provinces Bordering Pakistan

January 3, 2011 - 6:08 PM

Helmand Province

U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment patrol the streets of Marjah in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on Dec. 17, 2010. DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin S. O'Brien, U.S. Navy

(CNSNews.com) - Eighty-two percent of the U.S. casualties in Afghanistan in 2010 took place in Afghan provinces adjacent to the Pakistan border, a border that a top U.S. military official said last week cannot be sealed.

Of Aghagnistan’s 34 provinces, 11 border on Pakistan, which shares a frontier with Afghanistan that is about 1,500 miles long, according to the CIA World Factbook.

The 11 provinces are Badakhshan, Nuristan, Konar, Nangarhar, Paktiya, Khost, Paktika, Zabul, Kandahar, Helmand, and Nimruz.  Of these, only Badakhshan has seen no U.S. casualties in the course of a war that is now in its tenth year.

In the remaining 10 border provinces, according to CNSNews.com’s database of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan, U.S. forces suffered 408 casualties in 2010 alone. That is about 82 percent of the 497 casualties U.S. forces suffered in the Afghanistan war last year. 

About 58 percent of the 408 U.S. casualties that occurred in Afghan provinces bordering the Pakistan border took place in just the two southern Afghan provinces of Kandahar (107 casualties) and Helmand (181 casualties) where U.S. military activity is currently concentrated.

The rest of the U.S. casualties in Afghan-Pakistan border provinces were: Nuristan (1), Konar (40), Nangarhar (14), Paktia (5), Khost (10), Paktika (15), Zabul (34), and Nimruz (1). 

With 497 overall casualties in Afghanistan in 2010, last year was by far the deadliest yar of the ear in that country for U.S. forces.  Since the war began in October 2001, 1,358 U.S. troops have been killed in the war, meaning last year’s casualties alone accounted for 37 percent of the total.

During the course of the war, at least 968—or about 70 percent--of the 1,358 U.S. casualties have occurred in Afghan provinces adjacent to the Pakistan border.

502 of the U.S. casualties over the full course of the war have taken place in Kandahar and Helmand alone.

Last week, Col. Viet Luong, a U.S. Army commander in the Afghan-Pakistan border region, said in a Defense Department briefing that that border cannot be sealed.

“I think it’s naive to say that we can stop, you know, forces coming through the [Afghanistan-Pakistan] border,” said Col. Luong.

“To secure the border in the traditional sense, if you’re talking about, you know, like what we would do along our own border with Mexico down in the southwestern United States, that’s not what we’re doing,” he added. “And it takes, you know, an inordinate amount of resources and force to be able to do that. “

The commander mentioned that sealing the border that Afghanistan shares with Pakistan would require the Pakistanis to act on their side of the border and an agreement with tribes inhabiting that area.  

Col. Luong’s area of responsibility includes the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktiya, and Paktika and cover 162 miles of the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier.

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

The count includes all U.S. military personnel who have died or received fatal wounds, or were in fatal accidents, in and around Afghanistan while supporting military operations in that country. Specifically, the database included 1,345 casualties that took place in Afghanistan or as a result of wounds received in Afghanistan, 12 that took place in Pakistan and one that took place in the Arabian Gulf.