Archive for August, 2008

Coalition Deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan

August 31, 2008

Lately, John McCain has been touting the success of the surge in Iraq, for which he was the main advocate in the Senate when it began, while Barack Obama has been warning about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.  A look at coalition fatalities in both countries over the past year shows that both presidential candidates are correct in their assertions.  Here is a list of military deaths during that period broken down by month:



August 2007: 88

September 2007: 70

October 2007: 40

November 2007: 40

December 2007: 25

January 2008: 40

February 2008: 20

March 2008: 40

April 2008: 52

May 2008: 21

June 2008: 31

July 2008: 13

August 2008: 23



August 2007: 34

September 2007: 24

October 2007: 15

November 2007: 22

December 2007: 9

January 2008: 14

February 2008: 7

March 2008: 19

April 2008: 14

May 2008: 23

June 2008: 46

July 2008: 30

August 2008: 46


The number of coalition deaths per month in Iraq is down 70 percent from August of last year.  The decrease in casualties in Iraq has been attributed to the surge as well as the “Sunni Awakening” when Sunni tribes allied with the US against Al Qaeda.  Some analysts, such as Steven Simon, consider the Sunni Awakening to be the most important factor in the turn around, but others, such as Frederick Kagan, claim the surge is the reason behind the improvement.  McCain has argued that the US should stay the course in Iraq, but Obama has said that he would begin withdrawing American troops as soon as he came into office if elected.  Although the surge has been successful militarily, Iraqi leaders have failed to resolve their political differences; US officials hoped that the surge would enable the Iraqis to reach an accord, so the political objective of the surge has not been achieved.  A US withdrawal from Iraq could lead to a major increase in violence in that country, a factor which could complicate any pullout.


Coalition deaths in Afghanistan have increased 35 percent compared with August 2007, and the number is up 320 percent relative to January of this year.  The increase in casualties is due to the intensified level of the Taliban-Al Qaeda insurgency.  Obama has proposed sending 20,000 addition US troops to Afghanistan to fight the insurgents.  Some say the new Iraq counterinsurgency strategy of clear, hold and build could be a model for the coalition in Afghanistan, but it is unclear if NATO has sufficient forces there to employ such a strategy even if the US deploys two more brigades to the war torn country.