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NATO In Afghanistan: World War In One Country

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NATO In Afghanistan: World War In One Country
Rick Rozoff

Since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization took control of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan in 2003 the amount of troops serving under that command has grown from 5,000 to over 100,000.

There are currently 134,000 foreign troops in the nation counting U.S. soldiers serving separately with Operation Enduring Freedom, although the aggregate number is to reach 150,000 by the summer and most American troops not now under NATO command will soon be. There are 47,000 troops from NATO member and partner countries in the nation.

U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan will soon outnumber those in Iraq.

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Over 1,600 U.S., NATO and allied troops have been killed in the war theater, with 520 of those killed last year. U.S. deaths more than doubled from 2008 to 2009, from 155 to 318.

Over 170 Afghan civilians have been slain so far this year, a 33 percent increase over the same period last year. U.S. and NATO forces killed 90 civilians from January to April, a 76 percent rise from 51 in the same period of 2009. [1]

More than 300 people have been killed in U.S. drone missile strikes against alleged insurgent sites in Pakistan this year, bringing total deaths in such attacks to over 1,000 since August of 2008.

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15,000 U.S., NATO and Afghan government troops participated in the largest ground offensive of the war this February in Marjah and there are over 23,000 troops being amassed in the southern province of Kandahar for an assault planned to begin next month.

With recent announcements that Montenegro, Mongolia and South Korea have become the 44th, 45th and 46th official troop contributing nations - Bahrain, Colombia, Egypt and Jordan have already supplied or pledged troops but have not yet been given that designation - there will be military units from 50 nations on all six populated continents serving under the North Atlantic military alliance in a war in South Asia that will enter its tenth year on October 7.

Australia, with 1,550 troops, is engaged in its first combat operations and has experienced its first war deaths since the Vietnam War. Canada since the Korean War. Germany and Finland since the Second World War. If not for military deaths in Iraq since 2003, many more European countries would also be in the last category. (The four Swedish soldiers killed in northern Afghanistan are the Scandinavian country's first combat deaths in almost 200 years.)

The effects of the war in Afghanistan have not been limited to battlefield losses, though.

Last year NATO member Denmark spent $415 million for its mission in Afghanistan, up from $135 million in 2007. As the nation's total defense budget for 2009 was $3.87 billion, the Afghan war accounted for almost one-ninth of the country's annual military spending. Denmark, which lost seven soldiers in Iraq, has already lost 31 in Afghanistan.

Last week a Danish base in Helmand Province was attacked by insurgents and eleven Danish soldiers were wounded.

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On May 9 a British soldier was killed in Helmand, the 40th of the year and the 285th since the war began, exceeding the 255 killed in the 1982 war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands/Las Malvinas which had been the largest number since Britain's counterinsurgency war in Malaya in the 1950s. The United Kingdom registered 179 deaths in Iraq by comparison.

Over the past weekend four French troops were injured in a landmine explosion northeast of the Afghan capital, one of them gravely.

On May 12 it was reported that a Romanian soldier was killed in southern Afghanistan, the nation's 12th death there.

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/
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