In December, the Washington Post unveiled the “Pentagon Papers” of our era, unveiling confidential reports from the office of the special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction, revealing “with most speaking on the assumption that their remarks would not become public, U.S. officials acknowledged that their war-fighting strategies were fatally flawed and that Washington wasted enormous sums of money trying to remake Afghanistan into a modern nation.”
This morning, the SIGAR office released a new report with updated figures for the human cost of the U.S. effort in Afghanistan. They are grim:
- Using multiple casualty-related sources, SIGAR conservatively identifies 5,135 casualties in Afghanistan associated with reconstruction or stabilization missions, from 2002 through Dec. 31, 2018.
- The total reconstruction-related casualties include 2,214 killed and 2,921 wounded; the report also identifies 1,182 individuals who were kidnapped or went missing.
- During this period, at least 284 Americans were killed in Afghanistan while performing reconstruction or stabilization missions. This includes 216 U.S. service members and 68 U.S. civilians (government employees, contractors, and those with unknown statuses).
- An additional 245 U.S. service members and 76 U.S. civilians were wounded; 100 other Coalition service members were killed and 105 wounded; another 124 third country nationals were killed, 87 wounded and 59 kidnapped.
- 1,578 Afghans were killed, 2,246 wounded, and 1,004 kidnapped. These include 1,447 Afghan civilians killed, 2,008 wounded, and 1,003 kidnapped. Of the Afghans killed, 65 were bystanders.
- Data collected by SIGAR shows that the majority of casualties occurred during the height of the reconstruction efforts between 2008 and 2011.
The fact that the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan is now approaching 19 years — and that soon some of those serving there will have been born after the 9/11 attacks — is prompting a new push that it is time to wrap up the U.S. military presence in that country.