US forces in Afghanistan should brace themselves for up to 500 casualties a month this year, a senior retired American general has warned.
The forecast comes from General Barry McCaffrey, formerly the most decorated general in the US Army, who has conducted field assessments of the US military performance in Afghanistan at the request of the US military since 2003.
His assessment projects that US forces can expect to lose between 300 and 500 soldiers a month, either killed or wounded, this year, rising to a peak during the summer months. US military casualties during 2009 were 305 killed and 2,102 injured up to December 20. More than half of those injured have not been able to return to service.
The anticipated increase would produce around 3,000 American casualties this year, and a total for Western forces in Afghanistan of around 5,000 killed and wounded â€” the equivalent of seven infantry battalions.
Despite the stated desire of the Obama Administration to achieve a discernible improvement in Afghanistan within 18 months, and to begin a military drawdown after that time, General McCaffrey concludes: â€œWe are unlikely to achieve our political and military goals in 18 months. This will inevitably become a three to ten-year strategy to build a viable Afghan state with their own security force that can allow us to withdraw.
2010-01-07 07:28:45 UTC