DOD military casualties in Afghanistan as of Aug. 24, 2012
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DOD military casualties in Afghanistan as of Aug. 24, 2012

Washington : DC : USA | Aug 25, 2012 at 5:26 AM PDT
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Another 12 U.S. soldiers died in Afghanistan during the past week and 84 were wounded in action. While only six were killed in action and six were due to other causes, one of the alarming trends is the killing of NATO troops at the hands of Afghan Security Forces. It was alarming enough for Gen. Martin Dempsey, cahirman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to travel to Afghanistan to look into the issue himself.

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)are still the favorite tools of the insurgents. There seems to be an unlimited supply of suicide bombers as well.

Whilegenerals and politicians keep trumpeting that the training of Afghan Security Forces is proceeding well, doubt has been raised by Afghan experts on the viability of these forces. Most recently the issue was raised by former Canadian Captain Robert Semrau, who has broken his silence in his book "The Taliban Don't Wave." Semrau, who was charged with murder for mercy killing a Taliban insurgent but convicted of the lesser charge of "Disgraceful Conduct," writes about the difficulty of training Afghan Forces.

"Semrau's chronicle stands in sharp contrast to the picture both the Harper government and the army tried to paint of their Afghan allies throughout that time.

Instead of fearless, wily warriors, Semrau found himself saddled with ill-disciplined troops.

With a nearby unit pinned down in crushing ambush in the hours before the fateful shooting, Semrau argued with the Afghan officer whom he was mentoring." CBC

This is not the first time an officer or non-commissioned officer has commented on the frustration of training Afghans. Hamid Karzai is often referred to as the "Mayor of Kabul," mainly because he doesn't have much influence outside of the capital.

Billions are poured into the wartorn nation each year and precious blood of NATO's young is being shed. Yet there seems to be very little improvement in the country. The young men and women, who serve in NATO's military are dealing with mental health problems and in most cases the treatment is insufficient. Add to that the almost 20,000 wounded warriors, who will be dealing with their injuries for the remainder of their lives.

Election 2012.

The U.S. election campaign is concentrating on some important issues, such as Medicare and the economy, but also on a lot of trivial subjects. Foreign policy and national security, including Afghanistan are seldom mentioned. "Out of sight, out of mind" seems to be the motto.

The future of Afghanistan must be discussed by the candidates and they must both explain why they think that the U.S. and by extension NATO should remain there.

Syria, Iran, and the Middle East in general has to be discussed. Where does the U.S. stand with regard of all of these powder kegs? Ignoring the problems doesn't make them go away. Those are places waiting for a disaster to happen, yet the media pays little attention to them. Even the politicians appear to be detached.

This week, the election campaign was full of talking points on Romney's taxes, his energy policy and most recently his comments on the birth certificate. The other side talked about "You didn't build that," "they'll put y'all into chains" and other trivial gaffes. Is this what the election will be fought on? Get real, people. There are real pressing issues out there. Twenty-three million Americans are without a job or underemployed, yet the media and politicians discuss gaffes. Do we really have such a short attention span? Maybe we should all shake our heads.

As the election marches toward Nov. 6, more of the same can be expected. Don't accept it. Demand that the politicians address the important issues, which includes the economy, foreign policy and national security. Don't get hung up on the little stuff and don't forget that soldiers put their lives on the line each and every day in a dirthole called Afghanistan. Lest we forget.

Roll of Casualties

Below are this week’s updated DoD casualty figures:

Op Enduring Freedom Total Deaths KIA Non Hostile WIA

Afghanistan Only------------1973--------1639-----334-----17288

Other Locations----------------116-----------12-----104

DoD Civ Casualties--------------3-------- ----1--------2

Worldwide Total--------------2092--------1652-----440-----17288

Accumulated 2012 Casualties:

KIA Non Combat Deaths WIA

189------------81---------------1448

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General Dempsey in Afghanistan
General Dempsey visits troops in Afghanistan (AFP)
Karl Gotthardt is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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