Knock on wood.
But we’re halfway through February, and there hasn’t been a single US combat death in Afghanistan.
What’s more, only three Americans died in combat in January, which was the lowest death rate there since 2007, which was two years before the Surge in 2009.
It is winter in Afghanistan right now, and combat operations always drop off in winter months, but the January total of 3 casualties are compared to 26 last January. The deadliest provinces, where combat operations were the heaviest, Hellmand and Kandahar, in the south, haven’t had a combat death this year.
We should be grateful for this inasmuch as the withdrawal of American forces by 2014 all but insures a return to how Afghanistan once was before 2001 within 10 years.
We can’t account for these low casualties entirely to the weather. Either we’ve severely beaten the Taliban, or, as it more likely, they’ve begun to hunker down in anticipation of the withdrawal of 34,000 American troops this year, and the final draw down in 2014.
The only way we could tell if it is so would be if we announced this Spring that we’d changed our minds about the withdrawal, then see if this would cause the Taliban to scrap all their plans and for 2013-2014, and launch all-out offensives later this year.
This was our hoped-for strategy if Romney had won, as we think this war could still be won outright in Afghanistan, but with the original ground plans of 2001, plus a clamping down on corruption inside the Karzai government.
Still, the media has said nothing about these non-casualties. It should be a highlight of the Obama policy. Instead, they are neither heralding them nor crediting them to Obama policy, so something else is in the wind. A UN investigative team recently announced that UN and American forces had needlessly killed thousands of Afghan civilians, a report vigorously denied by ISAF leaders in the region.
Look for some sort of announcement in the near future.
In the meantime, pray for a continuance of this low death tally as the regions begins to thaw in April.