This week, another nine U.S. soldiers paid the ultimate price in Afghanistan. Another 96 were wounded in action (WIA). While politicians and military commanders argue that war is going as planned, with a complete handover to Afghan Security Forces by the end of next year, the carnage continues.
One of the major concerns recently is the so-called "green on blue" deaths, which describes the killing of NATO troops at the hands of their Afghan allies. The concern over the strength of the Taliban and its infiltration into Afghan security forces continues. On Wednesday, another three NATO soldiers were killed at the hands of their Afghan allies in a "green on blue" incident.
This brings the total to 45 deaths at the hand of Afghan security forces. Most of those killed were Americans, and the U.S. military has taken to arming themselves to protect themselves against their Afghan allies.
Canada has about 950 trainers in Afghanistan, and according to the Deputy Commander of the Canadian training mission, Col. Greg Smith, Canadians have not adopted the same measures. Smith says that while the threat is on top of the mind of members of the mission, Canadians take precautions though and work in pairs alongside the Afghans.
The Associated Press reports that Australia is mourning the death of five of its soldiers. The soldiers died in two separate incidents on Wednesday and early Thursday. This is the biggest one day loss of Australian troops in Afghanistan. (Source: Global Regina)
"In a war of so many losses, this is our single worst day in Afghanistan. Indeed I believe this is the most losses in combat since the days of the Vietnam War and the Battle of Long Tan. This is news so truly shocking that it's going to feel for many Australians like a physical blow," Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said.
Gillard said that the latest bloodshed would not speed up the Australian exit from Afghanistan and that withdrawal would not occur until the Uruzgan region is secure.
"Our strategy is well-defined, our strategy is constant. And we cannot allow even the most grievous of losses to change our strategy," she said. "We are there for a purpose and we will see that purpose through."
Despite these deaths being decribed as a "physical blow to all Australians" by Prime Minister Gillard, she calls the strategy well-defined and constant.
Unfortunately, the Taliban also have a strategy. They are aware of NATO's rush for the exit. Time is on their side, and incidents of this type will increase the calls for an immediate withdrawal.
There are severe difficulties in training Afghan troops, mostly due to their level of literacy. Compare the education level of Afghan troops with those of NATO. Most NATO troops have a minimum of a high school diploma along with some college, while many Afghans have not got past the elementary school level.
This week the RNC just completed its national convention and the DNC is about to hold its own. Very little has been said about Afghanistan, at least very little substantial. You can expect a similar outcome next week.
While the "green on blue" killings have been given some media time, Afghanistan is seldom on the radar unless something dramatic occurs. While you're about to celebrate Labor Day weekend, take a moment and remember the troops that are in Afghanistan on the nations behalf. Lest We Forget.
Below are this week’s updated DoD casualty figures:
Op Enduring Freedom Total Deaths KIA Non Hostile WIA
DoD Civ Casualties--------------3-------- ----1--------2
Accumulated 2012 Casualties:
KIA Non Combat Deaths WIA