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.
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 Icasualties.org 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 yearâ€™s presidential campaign. However, as the U.S. Congress returned from a weeklong Memorial Day break yesterday, the lawmakersâ€™ 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 Senateâ€™s to $91.3-billion in additional funding.