Afghanistan: the next Iraq?

A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter belonging to US-led coalition troops was shot down by small-arms fire south of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul July 2. The crew apparently survived, but Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Washington: “I am, and have been for some time now, deeply troubled by the increasing violence there. The Taliban and their supporters have, without question, grown more effective and more aggressive in recent weeks, and as the casualty figures clearly demonstrate.”

It was the second coalition helicopter to crash in a week. The other incident, in the northeast Kunar province, is under investigation but the US military says it likely crashed due to mechanical failure. (Reuters, July 2)

Also July 2, President Bush pledged to send more US troops into Afghanistan by year’s end. He conceded that June was a “tough month”—in fact, the deadliest for US troops in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion. More US and NATO troops have died in the past two months in Afghanistan than in Iraq, a place with triple the number of US and coalition forces.

In June, 28 US troops died in Afghanistan. For the full US-led coalition in Afghanistan the death toll was 46, also the highest of the war. The US has some 32,000 troops in Afghanistan, 14,000 of which are serving with NATO forces. The troop presence is at its largest since the war began. (AP, July 2)

See our last post on Afghanistan.