During December, the US forces suffered 33 casualties in the Afghanistan War, according to the casualty database of the Defense Department. This is the fewest amount of casualties in a month since April. While this fact indicates an improvement in Afghanistan, the amount of casualties in December were still notable in comparison to the past. Among the 111 months of the Afghanistan War, which began in October 2001, there has only been fourteen months with thirty or more US casualties, yet eight of those months have been the last eight months (May 2010 – December 2010).
Though, a decreased amount of casualties is not the only statistic that indicates an improvement during December. Throughout the month, there were 323 US forces wounded in action [.pdf], which is also the fewest amount of WIA’s since April. This amount of WIA’s is more than a third less (35%) than the amount of WIA’s in November. Further, the amount of WIA’s in December were nearly half (48%) of the WIA’s in August, which is the month with the most WIA’s of the entire war with a total of 616.
However, since the Afghanistan War began, there has only been twelve months with 300 or more WIA’s, yet eight of those months have been the last eight months. Therefore, even though the December statistics indicate an improvement in Afghanistan, it would be optimistic to coin this as anything more than a bitter improvement.
Moreover, the amount of casualties throughout 2010 resulted with the deadliest year of the Afghanistan War. There were 499 casualties in 2010. This is far more (38%) than the year with the second most casualties, which was 2009 with 311 casualties. Additionally, there were 5,182 US forces wounded in 2010. This represents more than half (52%) of all US forces wounded in the entire Afghanistan War, which totaled 9,957 at the end of 2010.
The year with the second most WIA’s was 2009, when 2,144 US forces were wounded. As a result, a majority (74%) of all WIA’s have occurred in the past two years. Accordingly, these statistics do not provide a pleasant picture in Afghanistan.
Lastly, President Obama recently released his much anticipated annual review of the Afghanistan War, which is viewable here [.pdf]. Basically, the President said progress has been made in Afghanistan over the past year, but the progress is “fragile and reversible.” The schedule to reduce the amount of US forces in July 2011 remains in place, but the size and scope of this reduction is unclear. As of now, US forces, as well as NATO forces, will remain in Afghanistan at least until 2014.