Now Comes the Deadly ‘Peace’ for Iraq

One soldier, the first since the symbolic withdrawal, lost his or her life during a rocket attack today in Basra.

For many Americans the withdrawal of the last “combat troops” from Iraq three days ago marked a psychological end to the war. Lost in the self-congratulatory reportage, however, were the approximately 52,000 servicemembers who remain behind in various functions, some of them as dangerous as traditional “combat.” One soldier, the first since the symbolic withdrawal, lost his or her life during a presumed “hostile” rocket attack today in Basra. More deaths will follow until the last servicemember is gone…if that ever actually occurs.

I would not count on it happening anytime soon though. On the heels of this tragic news, Gen. Ray Odierno, who is the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, admitted that “combat troops” could return if the Iraqi security forces completely fail at their job. Part of that success unfortunately rests on a government that has been unable to seat a new premier thanks to political chicanery from the sitting prime minister. It has been five months and hundreds of civilian deaths since Iraqis tried to elect a new leader and little has changed. Much like little has changed for the American troops who are still stationed in Iraq and still hoping they make it home alive.

U.S. Fatalities Cross the 1,000 Mark In Afghanistan

With the death of an unnamed servicemember in a roadside bomb attack today, the number of U.S. dead in Afghanistan has crossed the 1,000 mark.

The Associated Press announced the figure it culled from its own count. Using different counting methods, crossed the grim statistic last week and set the number at 1,007 deaths as of this afternoon. Both figures tally the number of servicemembers who died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan, including personnel injured there but who later died overseas at facilities such as Walter Reed and Landstuhl Medical Centers. The difference between the tallies only underscores the difficulty in tracking casualties.

According to the Department of Defense, Operation Enduring Freedom has suffered a total of 1,076 fatalities, 791 of them in combat. The larger figure also includes deaths in Guantánamo Bay, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Yemen. The tally from the entire theater crossed the 1,000 milestone back in February.

A little over a week from today, on June 7, the operation will mark its 104th month, making it the longest war in U.S. history.

Counting Afghanistan Casualties…Through 15 Other Countries

Although several news outlets spent the day barking about the Afghanistan death toll crossing the 1,000 mark, the truth is that casualty counting is a little more complicated. is where the media are grabbing that 1,000 figure. The Web site does report that that the death toll in “Operation Enduring Freedom” has crossed that many deaths, but with one caveat: “U.S. fatalities In and Around Afghanistan remain under this benchmark.”

Clicking one more link will take you to their actual toll for Afghanistan (including neighboring Pakistan and Uzbekistan), which is still 70 shy of the millennium mark. The rest of the servicemembers died in such far away countries as Cuba (Guantánamo Bay), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Yemen.

Some have asked me why I care where they died, as it’s still one war. True, but that’s 15 other countries where our relatives, friends and neighbors are dying in this worldwide war. It may not bring them back to notice the details, but it underscores how absurdly spread out the war machine has gotten. And for what purpose?

Iraq Troop Deaths Under Obama Reach The Century Mark

The number of U.S. troops who have died while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom since President Obama’s inauguration has now reached 100. This figure includes both combat and non-combat deaths that occurred since January 20. A few of the deaths were of servicemembers who died of injuries received before the inauguration but did not pass away until afterwards. Three U.S. soldiers who were killed in a Katyusha rocket attack last night were the latest reported casualties.

President Obama ran a campaign that promised Americans an end to the war in Iraq. Many were hoping for an  immediate resolution in January. Their disappointment in the president’s slow withdrawal and change of focus to Afghanistan and Pakistan is eclipsed only by those who are directly serving in the war theater. According to army officials, the suicide rate among Iraq and Afghanistan servicemembers is higher than last year and increasing. Indeed, of the 100 dead, only 32 were reported as combat incidents.

It would not be the first time that President Obama ran on an anti-war platform and then tempered his opposition upon winning office. Some anti-war democrats, including the son of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, complained two years ago that then-Senator Obama’s opposition to war faded after the election. At that time, Jim Ginsberg said to the New York Times, “some of [Obama’s] actions and speeches once he got in the Senate did not match his [pre-election] rhetoric.” By the time, Sen. Obama returned to the campaign circuit, his tune changed again. One can only hope he’ll actually start listening to the music before more Americans lose
their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Grim Milestone: 5,000 GIs Dead in Iraq, Afghanistan Wars

Among the six U.S. servicemember deaths so far reported in June, one soldier has become the 5,000th casualty of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among the six U.S. servicemember deaths so far reported in June, one soldier has become the 5,000th casualty of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the wars have cost at least 4,308 lives in Iraq and 695 in Afghanistan. The official count from the Department of Defense, however, has the total number of deaths at 4,996 in both military campaigns. The D.O.D. figures often lag slightly behind those reported in the mass media.

These figures include both combat and non-combat deaths, as well as those servicemembers killed outside the main theaters of action. In some cases, however, a servicemember who may have died months or years later of wounds received during service might not be included in official figures.

Military Families Speak Out noted the milestone in a press release published today. The antiwar group, which was formed by military families in 2002, asked President Obama to swiftly end the wars, as promised during last year’s presidential campaign. However, as the U.S. Congress returned from a weeklong Memorial Day break yesterday, the lawmakers’ main war concern was not ending either campaign, but in finalizing a new war funding bill for the president to sign.

President Obama originally asked for $84.3-billion to continue the wars. Both chambers then added their own items, bringing the final tally for the House to $96.7-billion and the Senate’s to $91.3-billion in additional funding.

Pssst, The War’s Not Over

The “Obamameter” is the St. Petersburg Times new tool for following President Obama’s progress on completing his campaign promises. It’s very cute and handy, but is it any more reliable than the president?

While checking in to the site this afternoon, I came across this in the “Promise Kept” section: “No. 125: Direct military leaders to end war in Iraq.” Needless to say, my jaw dropped. Did I miss something super important when I compiled my daily casualty report this morning? Should I run out and pick up a hard copy of the newspaper in hopes of seeing “IRAQ WAR ENDS” as the headline? Or should I just dig into this “promise kept” a little bit further?

As evidence of a kept promise, the paper quoted Obama as saying, “on my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war” and re-ran a story on Obama’s historic meeting with military officials. Okay, so that is vaguely true, but is it what the public was hoping for? A meeting that, even a month later, has given us no new, concrete plans? President Bush undercut that promise anyway, when gave us the SOFA agreement that forces U.S. combat troops out by the end of 2011. I was expecting more at this point in the administration. Heck, the Obama hasn’t even bothered to get a new Defense Secretary yet.

Obama in the same op-ed piece wrote, “[we] can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months.” That particular sentence, I believe, is what lured many voters to pull Obama’s knob in the voter’s booth. But, as of this morning, he is still considering a 23-month timeline—and the drawdown in Iraq would be mostly to feed the Afghanistan surge instead of ending U.S. warmongering.

Thankfully, the Times has the 16-month timeline as their next campaign promise, but if you are looking just in the “Promises Kept” section, you get the phony impression that Obama has done something to speed up the end of the war. At least that’s what I thought at first. I don’t know if the Obamameter’s editors meant to be intellectually dishonest — I actually don’t think so — but we have to stay on top the media and the President if this endless is ever to actually end.

Unfortunately, President Obama has also apparently kept the following promise: “No. 134: Send two additional brigades to Afghanistan.”

We have to do something about that too.