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16 US servicemen dead, helicopter shot down in Afghanistan


Current Iraq War Casualty statistics. Click for larger image

House Blenders: “Radical” Russ is your barista for the next few days while Pam is on vacation for her anniversary.

KABUL, Afghanistan – The U.S. military confirmed Thursday that all 16 servicemembers aboard a special forces helicopter died when it crashed into a mountain ravine in eastern Afghanistan earlier this week, apparently after being shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade.

The crash was the deadliest blow yet to American forces in Afghanistan grappling with an escalating insurgency.

The remains of those killed were being recovered at the site in Kunar province where the MH-47 chopper went down Tuesday, the military said in a statement. The helicopter crashed while ferrying reinforcements to a battle against insurgents near the Pakistan border.

With all the focus on Iraq, sometimes we forget that we still have troops in Afghanistan. Well, I don’t, because my brother-in-law is there, fixing helicopters. I desperately hope he wasn’t aboard this chopper (I doubt he was; he’s ground crew.)

According to icasualties.org, we’ve lost 209 servicemembers in Afghanistan since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001. The casualty rate there has increased every year since 2001 — 12, 43, 47, 52, and 57 for the current half-year.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, June 2005 ends as the 9th deadliest for our forces. Half of the months in 2005 rank in the top ten worst for US casualties for the entirety of the war. The current six-month average is 75 casualties per month (almost 2.5/day). The rolling six-month average of casualties, which had been declining since January, is back on the rise (see chart above, click for larger version, more stats available in Excel format.)

Some may consider it crass to calculate and display these morbid statistics. They’d say I’m giving “aid and comfort” to the enemy by fostering negative public opinion of the war, which will weaken our resolve, embolden the enemy, and lead us to withdraw prematurely. I’d counter that I am merely reporting the facts and that the negative public opinion stems from some other sad statistics, like:

0 captured Osama bin Ladens.
0 discovered weapons of mass destruction.
0 proven links between Iraq and 9/11.
~$180,000,000,000 spent so far on the war.
-$1,000,000,000 allocated for the Veterans Administration budget.
80% of troop transport vehicles lacking adequate armor.
250,000 tons of unsecured, missing Iraqi munitions.
92% of Iraqi security forces untrained in any meaningful way.
0 confidence in the Commander-in-Chief.

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