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Grim Milestone in Headstones as Afghanistan War Becomes America’s Longest

Arlington National Cemetery (photo: jimbowen0306 on Fickr)

As we enter the Memorial Day weekend, it is especially sad that the United States is suffering its 1000th death in Afghanistan at the same time that Afghanistan is becoming the longest war in American history.

The Times of London conveys the sad news on the death toll:

The toll of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan reached 1,000 on Friday, a grim milestone that came as Americans back home prepared to commemorate their war dead.

News that the body count had ticked into four figures came with the death in a roadside bombing of an American serviceman, yet to be named, who was the 32nd US soldier to die in the past month. He is the 430th to be killed in Afghanistan since President Obama took office in January 2009.

Friday’s USA Today noted that as of June 7, the war in Afghanistan will be the longest the US has fought:

The Vietnam War’s length can be measured in many ways. The formal beginning of U.S. involvement often is dated to Aug. 7, 1964, when Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, giving the president a virtual carte blanche to wage war. By the time the last U.S. ground combat troops were withdrawn in March 1973, the war had lasted 103 months.

U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001. On June 7, the war will complete its 104th month. President Obama on Thursday reaffirmed his commitment to the war, saying “it is absolutely critical that we dismantle that network of extremists that are willing to attack us.”

This longest war is far from America’s bloodiest. It has drifted in and out of focus and, for much of its life, been obscured by another war, in Iraq.

So, despite invading Aghanistan because they gave safe harbor to Osama bin Laden, the US is now on the verge of completing its 104 month there without having caught him. We still argue the strategy and tactics of this war in Washington, while our soldiers continue to die.

When will it end? How many more will die?

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Jim White

Jim White

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