Afghan Troops Suffered More Casualties Than We Thought

The Afghanistan government revealed on Sunday that 13,729 Afghan police officers and soldiers have been killed during the Afghanistan war, according to official statistics, a figure much higher than previously estimated.

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The Afghanistan government revealed on Sunday that 13,729 Afghan police officers and soldiers have been killed during the Afghanistan war, a figure much higher than previously estimated. The statement, issued by President Hamid Karzai's cabinet, added that 16,511 police officers and soldiers were wounded during the war.

The international coalition, on the other hand, suffered 3,425 losses — about one-quarter of those sustained by Afghanistan. Until now, death toll estimates were at 10,436 for Afghan soldiers and police as of this June, the last time Afghan officials offered information on non-civilian casualties. 

According to the New York Times, the data suggests that most of the deaths took place within the last three years: 

Before 2010, both police and military casualties were relatively few, reflecting the smallness of the Afghan security forces, and the higher proportion of the fighting carried out by NATO and American troops. For instance, in 2009, roughly twice as many coalition soldiers were killed as Afghan soldiers, based on data compiled by the Brookings Institution and, a website that compiles data on war casualties. According to the compilations by Brookings, only 1,236 Afghan soldiers and 3,290 Afghan police officers were killed from 2007 to 2010. 

This means that more than 8,000 Afghan soldiers and officers were killed from 2011 through today, unless numbers have been underreported in the past. The new report offers a surprisingly direct casualty count. Up until now, reports of military and police casualties have been cagey — last month, Afghanistan Ministry of Defense spokesman Gen. Zaher Azimi said "we have decided we will not share the number of casualties with the media," upon inquiries following the death of 21 Afghan soldiers in a Taliban attack. The Times notes that it's not clear why the data was finally released, but speculated that it could be to demonstrate how much the Afghan government has spent — $23 million, per the statement — on compensation for the victims' families.

Also on Sunday, the Washington Post published an interview with the outgoing Afghan president, who reiterated his anger towards the U.S. Karzai, who has repeatedly stalled signing a security pact with Washington and now says he will leave the task to his predecessor, told the Post he felt Afghans were killed in "a war that's not ours." The president, who has blamed the U.S. for Taliban-style strikes added that al-Qaeda is "more a myth than a reality" and that the war was "for the U.S. security and for the Western interest."

Karzai has been ruffling American feathers for years and such accusations are par for the course, but the revised casualty count could give his opinion some extra weight. Plus, most Americans aren't on board with the war, either.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.