National Security Brief: U.S. Deaths In Afghanistan On The Decline

Los Angeles Times notes that it has been nearly one month since the last American soldier has been killed in Afghanistan: “The last American troop death, from injuries suffered in a December roadside bombing, occurred Jan. 20, marking the longest stretch without a fatality since 2008 and offering a glimmer of evidence that the United States’ 11-year war is in its twilight. Deaths among U.S. troops in Afghanistan last year reached a four-year low as commanders hailed a tipping point in a conflict that has claimed more than 2,100 American lives.” The reasons? While allied forces have come up with new ways to prevent insider attacks and combat IEDs, Afghan troops are increasingly taking the lead in combat operations. The Times charts the numbers:

In other news:

  • President Obama reiterated his pledge to open up his counterterror drone program to Congressional scrutiny on Thursday in a Google-sponsored online Q and A. “What I think is absolutely true is it’s not sufficient for citizens to just take my word for it that we’re doing the right thing,” Obama said, adding that he wants to work with Congress to ensure that “we have a mechanism to also make sure that the public understands what’s going on, what the constraints are, what the legal parameters are.”
  • The Washington Post reports: The United Nations must be decisive and swift in judging whether diplomacy can resolve world concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday, or invite the risk that Iran, like North Korea, will use talks as a cover to build a bomb.
  • The New York Times reports: The Syrian insurgency claimed on Thursday to have near-total control of a strategically important province in the country’s northeast, home to some of the few remaining domestic oil production facilities that supply fuel for President Bashar al-Assad’s military forces, after ferocious clashes that lasted for three days.

(Photo: The New York Times)