At least two more US soldiers were killed in Afghanistan this week. The DoD has created a new pending category, which shows another four soldiers. iCasualties.org lists a total of seven NATO soldiers this week, which includes, one Australian, two British, three American and one more NATO soldier. A total of 44 US soldiers were wouned in action.
With the US election campaign in its final two weeks, Afghanistan has barely been mentioned by the media. During the final presidential debateaffirmed that he would withdraw US troops by the end of 2014, essentially the same policy as President Obama. It can also be assumed that it would be difficult to change the minds of America's NATO partners, many of which would rather leave earlier than later. Approximately 100,000 NATO troops remain in Afghanistan. The US has removed the surge troops, and its troop strenghth is about 68,000.
During the foreign policy debate the subject of Libya and Benghazi was raised by Bob Schieffer. Romney did not attack President Obama on the issue and refuse to take the bait to get into a scrap over it. Despite reports on FOX news, which which point to a failure in the administrations response and interaction between the State Department, the Pentagon and CIA, Romney has not weighed in.
Romney seems to be content with letting this issue play out in the media. The events in Benghazi leading up to the attack and subsequent administration response are not likely to have an impact on the upcoming election. With Hurricane Sandy occupying the media for at least next week, Benghazi will be pushed on the back burner.
Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall either Tuesday night or early Wednesday and its current path is expected to cause widespread damage, especially in the north east. This will affect the plans of both campaigns, especially in Virginia. With polls tightening the results of the election may not be known on Nov. 6.
The Middle East continues to be troublesome. A negotiated cease fire in Syria has already been broken. More than 60 people have been killed in Syria since the brokered cease-fire. A car bomb killed five people in Damascus, while 30 more were injured. Rebels and regime troops clashed in the suburbs of Damascus, while shelling took place in Homs. So much for a cease-fire.
After the New York Times reported last weekend that the US and Iran had agreed to one on one talks, it reported yesterday that Iran had completed its underground uranium enrichment plant at Fordo. Israel's Prime Ministerhad stated earlier that he would not allow Fordo to go into operation.
Israel will be heading to the polls on Jan. 22, which may give Benjamin Netanyahu a mandate for his position on Iran's nuclear development. It is increasingly clear though that Israel cannot go on its own. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney have put all options on the table and consider military action as the last resort.
Jordan officials reported that they had twarted a major terrorist plot in Iraq, by groups linked to al-Qaida. The plot was intended to hit both diplomatic and civilian targets.
Syria's civil war has been affecting all of the Middle East. Thirty thousand people have been killed and more than 300,000 have been displaced since the uprising started.
With the Middle East is in turmoil, there are still a myriad of challenges for the US and NATO in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The war in Afghanistan has been costly in terms of military deaths this year, with more than 300 US soldiers killed and upwards of 2,000 wounded. 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
Worldwide Total-------------2135-------- 1692------439----17834
Accumulated 2012 Casualties:
KIA Non Combat Deaths WIA