March 2014 marked the first time in more than a decade that there were zero U.S. fatalities among American troops engaging in combat, according to numbers from the Department of Defense.
After a decade at war in the post-9/11 environment, with major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and smaller conflicts in the various other countries where the U.S. uses more covert methods to fight against terrorism, the lack of combat deaths in March 2014 marks a milestone. In Iraq, the death toll reached 4,474 before the last soldier fell in November 2011. For years after the war’s launch in 2003, no months passed where at least one American didn’t die in battle and then only towards the end of the conflict did the numbers taper off enough to have a month where the only fatalities were non-combat related.
Based on information collected at the website iCasualties, which pulls from Pentagon data, it is the first time since July 2007 that no Americans were killed in Afghanistan in support of Operation: Enduring Freedom. The worst single month for U.S. forces in that conflict was July 2010, amid the summer fighting season, during which 65 Americans died. At that point, 98,000 American forces were stationed in Afghanistan amid the surge of 30,000 additional soldiers into the country. To date, 2176 U.S. military personnel have lost their life in Afghanistan.
While this marks a low point in deaths among American soldiers, the same cannot be said of the coalition forces fighting alongside the U.S. — two allied soldiers died over the course of the month. It also doesn’t mean that the situation in the two countries the United States has fought wars in over the last country are also free from strife. As NATO forces prepare to withdraw combat troops at the end of the year, violence in Afghanistan is currently threatening the ability of observers to verify its pending election. And in Iraq, 16 civilians died in an attack just this weekend. (HT: Kevin Sieff)