First Time In Four Years: U.S. Casualties In Afghanistan Down | After four straight years of rising death tolls among the U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, this year is set to see a decline in casualties. So far, 407 troops died in 2011, down nearly 100 deaths from last year. Casualties were lower in the earlier years of the war, and 2011 still tops 2009. But the decline this year underscores hope both that the Taliban insurgency is weakening and that the rising domestic dissatisfaction with the war can be held at bay long enough for a smooth U.S. exit. Over the weekend, Reuters reported a possible breakthrough in secret talks between the U.S. and the Taliban on confidence-building measures. November’s casualty numbers were the lowest month total in two years.