The Best Defense

The bloodiest month of the war in Afghanistan

June was the bloodiest month of the war in Afghanistan, reports John McCreary, the former DIA analyst who follows the fighting there closely. This seems to be shifting to a war of roadside bombs, very different from the war of a few years ago.

The unclassified fighting data for June 2009 establish it as the most bloody month in the 8 year history of the US and Coalition presence.  According to, 38 ISAF and NATO soldiers died (27 US, 2 UK, 2 Canada, 1 Estonia, 3 Denmark, 3 German); 23 -- 60% -- from roadside bombs. The only months in which NATO deaths were higher were June and August 2008 during the summer offensive last year, but adding in the number of wounded, June 2009 is the worst month of the 8 year fight.

Unclassified data show that 85 men were wounded, including 28 US, 5 UK, 7 Netherlands, 3 Poland, 1 Australia, 3 Estonia, 4 Italy, 1 Denmark, 1 France, 4 Canada.  In addition, 27 other International Security Assistance Force personnel were reported wounded by reliable sources but not identified by nationality."

In this war, by the way, old soldiers do die. One of the four Americans killed in Kunduz the other day was: "2nd Lt. Derwin I. Williams, 41, of Glenwood, Ill. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 106th Cavalry Regiment, Dixon, Ill.

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The Best Defense

Iraq, the unraveling (XV): the expected

I think that the current wave of bombings in Iraq, with 41 dead today but not much noticed here (I didn't see anything on the Washington Post's home page about it until late morning), was to be expected. I still think that a long-term unraveling is likely, but I think it is likely more to be a matter of Iraqi forces operating in a divisive, sectarian matter, and of militias re-emerging. For example, Stars & Stripes reports today that some Iraqi units are saying they have been instructed by the Ministry of Defense not to conduct combined operations. So I will not get real concerned about the current  bombing offensive unless it continues, widens and intensifies.

The New York Times does take notice: "Attacks in Baghdad and a city in northern Iraq killed at least 41 people and wounded dozens more on Thursday, the worst violence since Iraq celebrated the withdrawal of American troops from cities and towns last month."