June Was Deadliest Month for U.S. Troops in Nine-Year-Long War in Afghanistan

By Edwin Mora | July 1, 2010 | 3:03 PM EDT

U.S. Marines on the move near Khan Neshin in the volatile Helmand province of southern Afghanistan on Dec. 12, 2009. (AP File Photo/Kevin Frayer)

(CNSNews.com) – June 2010 was the deadliest month for U.S. troops in the nine-year-long war in Afghanistan.

As of July 1, 59 U.S. military fatalities were reported in Afghanistan for June, making June the deadliest month overall for American troops since the war started in October 2001, according to CNSNews.com’s tally.
The 59 combat and non-combat fatalities during the month of June compares with 58 deaths recorded in October 2009, which had been the deadliest month for U.S. troops until now.
The heaviest fighting between U.S. forces and insurgents tends to occur during the months of June to September. 
Among the 59 U.S. deaths reported in June, 54 were combat-related. The Afghanistan war’s overall U.S. death toll stands at 1,060, including 899 combat-related casualties. Non-combat related deaths include soldiers who have died accidentally, in vehicle or air crashes, for example.
American fatalities so far this year are more than double those in the same period of 2009, which was the deadliest year for American forces in Afghanistan. 
There have been 199 combat and non-combat fatalities so far this year, which is more than a 50 percent increase from the 84 fatalities during the same period in 2009.
Of the war’s total 1,060 U.S. combat and non-combat deaths to date, 448 -- around 42 percent -- have happened since May 15, 2009, the day when the first major wave of new troops ordered by President Obama arrived in Afghanistan.
Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) continue to be the number-one killer of U.S. forces. At least 434, or about 48 percent, of all U.S. combat-related deaths during the war have been caused by IEDs.
That number could be higher because the Defense Department does not always report the full circumstances surrounding a soldier’s death, at times stating only that the soldier died while supporting combat operations. Some military officials estimate that IEDs are responsible for 60 percent of combat deaths. 
At least 84, or 45 percent, of the 187 U.S. military combat-related deaths so far this year reportedly have been caused by IED attacks. Among the 54 combat-related deaths that have been reported for June 2010 so far, at least 24 have been caused by insurgent IEDs. 
CNSNews.com’s casualty count is derived primarily from U.S. Defense Department casualty reports, but it also includes information gleaned from the news media.

Gen. David Petraeus testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 29, 2010, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to be confirmed as President Obama's choice to take control of forces in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The count covers all U.S. military personnel who died or received fatal wounds in Afghanistan or Pakistan. It does not include U.S. soldiers who died outside of those two countries while supporting military efforts against terrorism under Operation Enduring Freedom, which includes multiple countries.  
CNSNews.com’s tally of 1,060 combat and non-combat deaths in the almost nine-year Afghan war is four more than  DOD’s reported count as of July 1. 
While testifying before the Senate Armed Services committee on Tuesday, Gen. David Petraeus, now the top commander of U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the U.S. is facing an “industrial strength insurgency” in that country.
The general acknowledged that the United States has experienced “tough fighting and tough casualties” in Afghanistan in recent months. 
“My sense is that the tough fighting will continue, indeed it may get more intense in the next few months. As we take away the enemy’s safe havens and reduce the enemy’s freedom of action, the insurgents will fight back,” added Gen. Petraeus.
However, the general also said that “progress is possible in Afghanistan” although he recognized that progress in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, home to the largest military U.S.-led operation against the Taliban, is not going “as well as the optimistic assessments.” 
Throughout the war, more U.S. soldiers have died in the Helmand and Kandahar provinces than in any other area in Afghanistan. Both provinces border Pakistan.
Among the 199 combat and non-combat fatalities in 2010, at least 83 have taken place in Helmand and 31 in Kandahar for a total of 114, or approximately 58 percent, of all 2010 fatalities.  CNSNews.com was unable to determine the exact location of three casualties this year.
NATO forces are expected to move into Kandahar next, a location that Gen. Petraeus described as “an area of considerable importance to the Taliban.” However, the Kandahar operation has been delayed as U.S. and NATO forces continue fighting insurgents in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province.