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6.5 OTHER HUMANITIES
US and British casualty figures in Afghanistan experienced a dramatic surge in 2010. A total of 499 US troops and 103 British soldiers were killed by the Taliban last year with thousands more seriously injured by improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The casualty statistics for Afghanistan paint a grim picture of the US-led International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF) campaign against the Taliban. ISAF’s war in Afghanistan deteriorated significantly in 2007 as the Taliban re-grouped, re-organised and finessed its counter-insurgency strategy against NATO. For example, the number of US and British troops killed in action by the Taliban on an annual basis trebled between 2007 and 2009. This spike in combat deaths prompted President Obama to announce an Iraq-style troop surge to be deployed in Afghanistan during 2010. The US troop surge in Iraq in 2007 is often cited as the primary causal factor in the reduction of US casualties there by up to 90% between 2007 and 2009. Whilst many observers dispute this claim, the Obama administration had hoped that there would be a similar reduction in US casualties in Afghanistan. General David Petraeus, architect of the Iraq surge, assumed command of ISAF in July of last year as NATO operations intensified in Afghanistan. Unfortunately however, increased troop levels – along with a genuine attempt to engage the civilian population with hundreds of civilian-led provincial reconstruction teams – has not led to a reduction in hostilities or casualties. The number of Afghan civilians killed in the war almost doubled during 2010. In addition, US casualties – from a peak in 2009 – doubled yet again in 2010.
Clonan, T., 2010: US Military And Civilian Surge Afghanistan, Dublin: The Irish Times.