INGTON The American people should prepare to accept hundreds of US casualties each month in Afghanistan during spring offensives with Taliban fighters, a retired senior army officer has said.
General (R) Barry McCaffrey, an adjunct professor of international affairs at the US Military Academy at West Point, made the dire forecast in a periodic assessment of political and security issues he has conducted in the war zone since 2003, according to the Army Times.
What I want to do is signal that this thing is going to be $5 billion to $10 billion a month, and 300 to 500 killed and wounded a month by next summer. Thats what we probably should expect. And thats light casualties, said McCaffrey, who is president of his own consulting firm in Arlington, Virginia, and has conducted numerous trips to the war zones to assess the political and military challenges at hand.
As of December 20, there had been 305 US troops killed in Afghanistan in 2009, the large majority of those because of hostile action. The number of wounded as of the same date for 2009 was 2,102, with more than half of those unable to return to duty.
A month-by-month breakdown using data compiled by Army Times shows that in 2009, the highest number of wounded and dead in Afghanistan occurred from June, with 210 wounded and killed through October, when 318 were listed as wounded or killed.
October was the deadliest month for US troops, with 50 killed in hostile action, but in September, the most were wounded, with 457 taken out of the fight.
McCaffrey predicts those numbers will go higher, up to 500 casualties per month, as the winter thaw permits enemy and coalition forces to begin their respective offensives.
McCaffrey, a three-time recipient of the Purple Heart medal who also earned the Distinguished Service Cross twice during combat in Vietnam, told Army Times that people are shocked when I add the numbers up, but what hes discussing, he said, is not significantly higher than what is being suffered by the United States in Afghanistan now.
His reports are compiled with information gathered in theater and from research conducted beforehand, the newspaper said. McCaffrey traveled to the war zone for this report as an academic from West Point at the invitation of theater commander Gen. David Petraeus, commander of Central Command, and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the operational commander in Afghanistan, he said.