Obama’s War: 575 American KIA on His Watch

As many American soldiers have died in Afghanistan under Obama as under Bush.

Steve Hynd has been trend spotting this for a while and now, Robert Naiman reports, it’s happened: As many American soldiers have died in Afghanistan under Obama as under Bush.

575. That’s how many U.S. soldiers have lost their lives in the Afghanistan war since Barack Obama became President at noon on January 20, 2009, according to the icasualties.org website, which tracks U.S. soldiers’ deaths using reports received from the Department of Defense — and which is widely cited in the media as a source of information on U.S. deaths.

According to the same website, 575 is also the number of U.S. soldiers who lost their lives in the Afghanistan war during the Presidency of George W. Bush.

Therefore, total U.S. deaths in Afghanistan have doubled in Afghanistan under President Obama, and when the next U.S. soldier is reported dead, the majority of U.S. deaths in Afghanistan will have occurred under President Obama.

Obama has doubled down on the war in Afghanistan since taking office and, especially, over the last six months or so.

The trend lines have been going up and Bush may have made the same call had he somehow gotten a third term.   But 2009 more than doubled the previous record high for the war — 2008 — and we look to be on a pace to more than match that in 2010:

He didn’t start it.  But this is Obama’s war now.

FILED UNDER: National Security, World Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    FWIW, the casualty rate appears to be about the same when measured per 100,000. There were roughly 22,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan in 2006. Now there are roughly 100,000.




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  2. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I would like to see what the other guy looks like. We lost soldiers in all of our wars. We did not start this, they did. Soldiers fight. Some die in the service of their nation. Let us hope our leaders have the guts to make sure these men and women did not give their lives in vain.




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  3. G.A.Phillips says:

    How come it’s(The Death toll) not at the top of all the newscasts and in all of the papers everyday anymore?

    Because the death toll is not needed undermine Bush and our troops anymore? because a suck A$$ fake president controls a suck a$$ fake media?
    Man!

    Pray for victory, pray for our troops, support the war on terror effort!!!!!




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  4. Steve Plunk says:

    This is not Obama’s war. It is our war. Assigning something like this to one president is something to be expected from antiwar activists but grownups understand how things work. As others have pointed out the Left was quick to label wars as Bush wars but that’s indicative of their immaturity. Let’s hope Obama allows his generals to conduct this war in a way to ensure victory and keep our casualties to a minimum.




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  5. James Joyner says:

    We did not start this, they did.

    That depends on what you mean by “this.” We deposed the Taliban in a matter of days and al Qaeda in Afghanistan was a rump force years ago. We’ve since been engaged in a bizarre nation-building exercise.

    Let us hope our leaders have the guts to make sure these men and women did not give their lives in vain.

    But, if the mission is unachievable, then this becomes a rationale for killing even more of our soldiers. Which, in turn, becomes a justification for killing even more.




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  6. Tano says:

    It’s America’s war, James.




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  7. Tano says:

    “We deposed the Taliban in a matter of days…”

    Yes, but obviously – the Taliban would be un-deposed in a matter of a few days more if we simply left after the initial victory without leaving something in place that could provide non-extremist governance.

    “and al Qaeda in Afghanistan was a rump force years ago.”

    Only in the sense that they moved to the other side of meaningless border.

    ” We’ve since been engaged in a bizarre nation-building exercise.”

    What is so bizarre about it? Either the place is anarchic long enough for the Taliban to reassert itself (which wouldn’t take long since they are one of the few organized entities in the country) – or we try to help moderate, relatively decent Afghans build the foundations for a functioning government.

    You have to decide what you are willing to accept there. Either it will be run by the Taliban, with al-Q being invited back from over the border, or some other force, built and maintained by us, will gain traction and establish some sort of a nation-state.

    I don’t see what is so bizarre about this…




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  8. john personna says:

    I might call Iraq Bush’s war, given the market effort he made to get it going. Afghanistan is different though. We Americans needed a response to 9/11, and the Afghans were foolish enough to provide it (by not handing over bin laden).




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  9. john personna says:

    BTW, while I thought Afghanistan got a clean moral call, I never really endorsed it. The articles claiming historical parallels dissuaded me. Look at the British history they said, look at the Russian history.

    It’s interesting now, and a little sad, that our bog-down in Afghanistan might match the historic precedents.




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  10. mantis says:

    We’ve since been engaged in a bizarre nation-building exercise.

    Is it bizarre because it’s nation-building, or is this particular nation-building exercise bizarre?

    In any case, what else are we supposed to do with the failed state turned terrorist haven ruled by violent theocratic authoritarians? Lob a few bombs and wait for the rerun?




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  11. john personna says:

    Is it bizarre because it’s nation-building, or is this particular nation-building exercise bizarre?

    Both are good questions. In part I think you have to decide how you feel about “self-determination.” That is, the right and responsibility of people to find their own future. If you really believe that people can and should find their own future, then the best you can do is assist them when they are:

    1) ready
    2) willing
    3) and their goals run parallel to your own

    How many of those conditions are true in Iraq and Afghanistan?




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  12. An Interested Party says:

    “Assigning something like this to one president is something to be expected from antiwar activists but grownups understand how things work. As others have pointed out the Left was quick to label wars as Bush wars but that’s indicative of their immaturity.”

    If mature grownups had been in power in the early part of this decade, we would not have invaded and occupied Iraq in the first place…

    “Let’s hope Obama allows his generals to conduct this war in a way to ensure victory and keep our casualties to a minimum.”

    Oh really? And how, exactly, is victory ensured in Iraq and Afghanistan?




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  13. An Interested Party says:

    Or, rather, what, exactly, is victory in Iraq and Afghanistan?




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  14. john personna says:

    Or, rather, what, exactly, is victory in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    Crypto-colonialism.




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  15. Brummagem Joe says:

    It’s Obama’s war. Give me a break. We’ve been there for nine years. Nine years! Petraeus in an interview is claiming more time is needed because we’ve only been able to put an effective strategy in place during the past year. So what the hell were the Bush admin and the Pentagon doing for seven and half years? Playing cowboys and Indians. Obama was handed a mess in Afghanistan just as he was handed a mess in Iraq and with the domestic economy. Basically he’s involved in trying to bring some coherence to these various disaster areas and clean up the dog poop on the carpet. Quite honestly Jim your attempt to shift responsibility for the disaster that is Afghanistan betrays you.




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  16. James Joyner says:

    Quite honestly Jim your attempt to shift responsibility for the disaster that is Afghanistan betrays you.

    I’m not shifting responsibility. Bush attacked Afghanistan, more slowly than I’d have liked, in response to 9/11. He then kept us there for no apparent reason for years on end, with no obvious plan. But, he was muddling through with a small footprint and getting few soldiers killed.

    Obama has doubled down and, in a matter of months, achieved Bush’s kill total. That means it’s “his” war, both in terms of having taking active ownership of it and because, to the extent that it’s a “disaster” for us, it’s exactly as much is as Bush’s. And, from here on out, the scales balance towards Obama.




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  17. Brummagem Joe says:

    James Joyner says:
    Monday, August 16, 2010 at 21:41
    “I’m not shifting responsibility. Bush attacked Afghanistan, more slowly than I’d have liked, in response to 9/11. He then kept us there for no apparent reason for years on end, with no obvious plan.”

    You mean he screwed up and left a mess for someone else to sort out. Your logic is faulty Jim.




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  18. Tano says:

    “Obama has doubled down and, in a matter of months, achieved Bush’s kill total. ”

    I really don’t understand this take on the situation. Is this some partisan game, with military deaths being counted as demerits for alterantive commanders in chief?

    Hello….this is a real shooting war. These are real soldiers that are dying, not tokens being accumulated by one side or the other in a partisan fight. They are dying for what our government believes is a vital mission – to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists who have already murdered 3000 of us.

    If you think that Afghanistan would not fall to the Taliban if we left, then say so. If you think the Taliban has no more ties to al-Q, and would not invite them back, then say so. For the record, almost everyone I have heard who had some expertise on these matters, thinks the Taliban could easily take over if we were not there, and are closer to al-Q than they ever have been before. But I would be glad to hear your arguments James.

    Or perhaps you acknowledge that all this may come to pass, but for some reason, its should not be e concern to us. IF thats your postion please say so.

    Or maybe you just think all this will happen, and the terrorists will get strong and they will attack us again, and there really isnt anything we can, or should try to do about it.

    Which is it?
    And if, for some reason, you were suddenly to get the feeling that this really is a necessary war that must be supported, would it then be “Obama’s War”, or your war too?




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  19. anjin-san says:

    >Obama has doubled down and, in a matter of months, achieved Bush’s kill total.

    Interesting choice of words. Since when is a KIA a “kill”? I have lived through several wars and countless police actions, an I can’t remember that phrasing applied to anyone but an enemy.




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  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    The preferred GOP position would have been for Obama to withdraw. Then the GOP would have accused him of cowardice.

    Failing that they are happy to suddenly discover that Afghanistan is futile and blame Obama for combat deaths.

    What’s missing from this? Any real concern about our soldiers, the Afghan people, or America’s position in the world. It’s all politics.

    There are good arguments to be made on both the stay-in and get-out sides. But none of that matters to Republicans because they will simply take whatever position allows them to attack Obama.




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  21. anjin-san says:

    > But none of that matters to Republicans because they will simply take whatever position allows them to attack Obama.

    True. Did you notice how when the news from the Gulf spill was bad, the GOP could talk of nothing else. When the news started to turn good, the silence was deafening. What was absent was any semblance of concern for the environment or the folks who live on the gulf who had been harmed by the disaster.




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