Grim milestone reach in Afghan war: 1,000th U.S. soldier killed
BY Stephanie Gaskell
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Tuesday, February 23rd 2010, 9:18 AM
The U.S. death toll in Afghanistan has reached a grim milestone - 1,000 American troops have been killed since the war began nine years ago.
And that number is expected to rise as the largest military offensive since the fall of the Taliban continues in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan.
Twelve U.S. Marines have been killed in the province since Operation Together began on Feb. 13 in the Marjah district, according to the Pentagon.
The offensive is expected to last several more weeks as 15,000 U.S., NATO and Afghan forces push out the Taliban in heavily mined, poppy fields.
Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, warned that more casualties are expected.
"These types of efforts are hard, and they're hard all the time," he said. "I don't use words like 'optimist' or 'pessimist.' I use 'realist.'"
Military leaders hope the operation will turn around a war that has only worsened in the past two years.
Officials said 54 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year, compared to just eight in the same time period in 2008.
Last year was the deadliest year for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since the war began - 316 soldiers were killed in action.
That's more than double the previous year when 155 soldiers died.
In Iraq, eight U.S. troops have died this year bringing the total to 4,378 since the war began in 2003.