After eleven years of war in Afghanistan neither NATO or the US military are reporting any casualties during the past week. As NATO transitions responsibilities to Afghan security forces, casualty figures remain unchanged.
According to a report by the Congressional Research Service the toll of both civilian and military casualties has been very high. The UN casualty figures puts the civilian deaths since 2007 at 11,807 and those of Afghan Security Forces at 734 from 2011 until August 2012.
During the same period, the report shows non U.S. military casualties at 1059, of which 438 were UK soldiers and 158 Canadians. France with 88, Germany's 52 and Italy's 49 casualties top off the top five NATO countries that have suffered casualties. Both Canada and the UK were operating in the volatile southern provinces of Hellmand and Kandahar. Australia, a non-NATO ally has lost 39 soldiers.
President Obama, during his inauguration speech on January 21, said that America had been tested with crisis that steeled the people's resolve and resilience and that a decade of war was ending, with direct reference to Afghanistan.
There is a lot of skepticism when it comes to the analysis of the success of this war. Did the spilling of all the precious blood by both ISAF and Afghans achieve anything or will the country fall back to the state it was found in prior to the invasion? If this past week turns into a trend and holds after the start of the fighting season, something may have been achieved. On can only hope.
A report published yesterday in the Washington Post,
an Afghan youth orchestra will be boarding an aircraft to perform in the US. an Afghan 16 year old girl, Negin Khpolwak, is part of the orchestra. The significance of this, is that under the Taliban this would not have been possible.
Eleven years after the fall of the Taliban, Khpolwak now performs in the Afghan Youth Orchestra, a celebrated ensemble of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul, where she studies.
“Normally, Afghan girls are not picking traditional instruments,” Khpolwak said in a phone interview through an interpreter. “I am one of the first. It’s an honor to play with the orchestra and to act as an ambassador for Afghan music and culture.”
Khpolwak seems aware of the symbolism: She is a girl attending school in a country where the Taliban silenced both women and music.
Trend or not and putting politics aside, there are some hopeful signs that indicate some improvement in Afghanistan. Kabul, however is not the countryside and the corruption in Afghanistan is still rampant. Warlords rule the rural areas and the Taliban and its insurgency is taking a breather. The new fighting season in 2013 will be the first indicator of the Taliban's resilience. Meanwhile our soldiers are still exposed to danger in Afghanistan. Lest We Forget.Roll of casualties
Below are this week’s updated DOD casualty figures:
Op Enduring Freedom Total Deaths KIA Non Hostile WIA
DOD Civ Casualties--------------3-------- ----1--------2
Worldwide Total-------------2168-------- 1718------450----18215
Accumulated 2012 Casualties:
KIA Non Combat Deaths WIA
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