At Least 23 U.S. Soldiers Died in Afghanistan Last Month; 1,720 Since War Started

By Edwin Mora | November 1, 2011 | 2:15 PM EDT

US soldiers walk at the site of a suicide car bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011. A suicide car bomber struck a NATO convoy on the outskirts of Kabul on Saturday, causing casualties among the NATO service members and Afghan civilians (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

( - At least 23 U.S. military fatalities were reported in Afghanistan last month (as of mid-day on Nov. 1), bringing the total American deaths since the conflict started to 1,720, according to’s tally.

Of the 23 deaths in October, at least 20 were combat-related. One other soldier’s death was a non-combat fatality. And there was no information on the cause of death for two soldiers.

However, The New York Times reported that one of those two soldiers, Army Pvt. Danny Chen, 19, of New York ,“was found shot to death in a guard tower on an American outpost in Afghanistan” on Oct. 3.

The report suggested that the soldier may have committed suicide as a result of racist harassment from his fellow soldiers. There was no more information on the other soldier for whom the cause of death is currently undetermined.

So far this year, there have been 362 total U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan, including 323 (about 89 percent) combat-related deaths.

Of the 1,720 total U.S. military casualties in the decade-old war, 1,506 (88 percent) have been combat-related. Non-combat deaths include those that occurred as a result of accidents, illnesses, drowning, or other non-combat incidents in and around Afghanistan.

A US soldier checks the damage at offices of the U.N.'s refugee agency, the UNHCR, caused by a suicide bomber, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Monday, Oct. 31, 2011. (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)

There have been at least 1,151 deaths since Barack Obama became president on January 20, 2009, which is more than two-thirds (about 67 percent) of the total 1,720 fatalities that have occurred in the war. Most of the deaths under Obama have been combat-related.

The U.S. military deaths have more than tripled under Obama from the 569 that had occurred as of the time he took office to the 1,720 that had been reported as of Nov. 1, 2011.

With two months left to go, 2011 is already the second-deadliest year of the Afghanistan war following 2010, the deadliest year of the war with 497 total deaths. The top three deadliest years of the war -- 2010 (497 deaths), 2011 (362), 2009 (303) -- have occurred under President Obama’s tenure. August 2011 was the deadliest month of the war, so far, with 71 total fatalities.

The top five deadliest months of the war, which began Oct. 7, 2001, have taken place under Obama’s presidency: August 2011 (71 deaths), July 2010 (65), June 2010 (60), October 2009 (58), and August 2010 (55). Historically, the Afghan summer months of June to September have seen the most fatalities.

The southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar continue to be the deadliest for American forces in Afghanistan. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), also known as homemade bombs, continue to be the number one killer of U.S. forces, accounting for about 60 percent of all deaths.

The number of U.S. military deaths for the month of October potentially could be greater than 23 given that the Defense Department does not always report a death the day it occurred – so, death reports may come in several days after they actually occurred.’s detailed count of U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan is derived from official casualty reports issued by the U.S. Department of Defense and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force-Afghanistan, along with information taken from media accounts.

President Barack Obama reviews the honor guard with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday, March 28, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

The database includes all U.S. troops who died or were fatally injured in and around Afghanistan while supporting military efforts against insurgents under Operation Enduring Freedom, which covers multiple countries.’s total count of U.S. fatalities in and around Afghanistan includes 12 U.S. troops who died in Pakistan and three who died in the Arabian Sea while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan.

President Obama announced in December 2009 that he was temporarily increasing the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan by 30,000 troops. On June 2, 2011, the president announced that 10,000 troops would be out of Afghanistan by Dec. 31, and another 23,000 would be withdrawn by September 2012. That would leave around 60,000 soldiers in Afghanistan.

Obama has endorsed a goal of having Afghanistan forces in the lead of their own security by the end of 2014.

U.S. military officials have indicated that despite the expected reduction in forces, the U.S. will maintain a military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

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