While U.S. hostile fire fatalities in Iraq last month dropped to their lowest level since December, the news has been far grimmer coming out of Afghanistan. In terms of enemy fire, May 2008 was the second deadliest month of the war since hostilities began in Afghanistan shortly after 9/11. This also marked the end of the deadliest 12-month period for U.S. troops in combat in Afghanistan since the war began nearly seven years ago.
14 Americans were killed by hostile fire in Afghanistan last month (equal to the same number killed in June 2006). The deadliest month of combat in Afghanistan for U.S. troops was in June 2005 when 25 died--16 in a single helicopter shoot-down.
While 14 hostile fire fatalities may not seem significant when compared to the fighting in Iraq, there are two facts that we must take into consideration:
1. We have just experienced the deadliest 12-month period of the war in Afghanistan in terms of hostile fire--by far.
99 Americans have been killed in action since 1 June 2007. The previous 12-month high was 70--between 1 June 2005 and 31 May 2006.
2. The hostile fire death rate for American troops in Afghanistan last month was four times that of Iraq.
One out of every 2,500 (.04 percent) Americans in Afghanistan died last month at the hands of the enemy. This is much higher than in Iraq, in which one out of every 10,000 (.01 percent) American troops died.
While hostile fire casualty rates in Iraq have been higher than .04 percent in about half of all months since the invasion, this shows us one fact that cannot be overlooked: The violence in Afghanistan only seems minimal to Americans because there are a mere 33,000 troops there. But the rate of violence there is clearly comparable to that in Iraq--where 155,000 troops are now serving. For those 33,000 troops in Afghanistan, for the first time now, life has become more dangerous than in Iraq.
In a related news story, Mia Farrow's brother, Patrick, penned a scathing letter to the editor over the mysterious non-combat death of their nephew Sgt. Jason Dene, as described in Editor & Publisher:
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Whatever the cause, Patrick Farrow feels he knows what really killed his nephew: "Because of the arrogant, corrupt lies of George W. Bush and his neo-con handlers my nephew is dead, and I am mad as hell...Jason Dene was not killed by enemy fire nor friendly fire but by Bush's brutal and cynical stop-loss program."
"Because of Bush's abusive stop-loss policy, Jason had been sent into an unwanted third tour of duty. He was a father of three and could not afford to lose his pension. Some 'volunteer Army'.
"During his three 15-month tours in Iraq, exposure to roadside bombs and other job-related injuries caused Jason to be hospitalized several times for concussion and internal bleeding and other injuries. Recently, Jason's condition was such that the Department of Defense flew him from Iraq to Dover Air Force Base for surgery. He was released from the hospital into the loving arms of the government who sent him directly back into Iraq. He was put on active duty while he was still on a liquid diet, unable to eat solid food because of a throat hemorrhage due to a botched surgery at a military hospital.
"After his second tour Jason returned home with severe mental and physical issues. He was certainly in no condition to be pressed into a third tour. He wanted out of the army. But Jason was a victim of the liar's back-door draft...
"Because of George Bush, the arrogant, the corrupt, the liar, the war criminal, my nephew is dead and my sister and the rest of my family are devastated."