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Afghanistan by the Numbers: Measuring a War Gone to Hell

Maintenance cost for the force of 450,000 Afghan soldiers and police U.S. generals dream of creating: approximately 500% of the Afghan budget.

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Amount spent on police "mentoring and training" since 2001: $10 billion.

Percentage of the more than 400 Afghan National Police units "still incapable of running their operations independently": 75% (2008 figures).

Cost of the latest upgrade of Bagram Air Base (an old Soviet base that has become the largest American base in Afghanistan): $220 million.

Cost of a single recent Pentagon contract to DynCorp International Inc. and Fluor Corporation "to build and support U.S. military bases throughout Afghanistan": up to $15 billion.

War-Fighting

Number of American troops killed in Afghanistan, 2001: 12.

Number of American troops killed in Afghanistan, 2009 (through September 7th): 186

Total number of coalition (NATO and American) deaths in 2009 thus far: 311, making this the deadliest year for those forces since the war began.

Number of Lithuanian troops killed in Afghanistan: 1

Two worst months of the Afghan War in terms of coalition deaths: July (71) and August (74) 2009.

U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, 2002: 5,200.

Expected U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, December 2009: 68,000.

Percentage rise in Taliban attacks on coalition forces using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in 2009 (compared to the same period in 2008): 114%.

Rise in Coalition deaths from IED attacks in July 2009 (compared to July 2008): six-fold.

Percentage increase in overall Taliban attacks in the first five months of 2009 (compared to the same period in 2008): 59%.

Number of U.S. regional command centers in Afghanistan: 4 (at Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Bagram).

Number of U.S. prisons and holding centers: approximately 36 "overcrowded and often violent sites" with 15,000 detainees.

Number of U.S. bases: at least 74 in northern Afghanistan alone, with more being built. (The total number of U.S. bases in Afghanistan seems not to be available.)

Estimated cost per troop of maintaining U.S. forces in Afghanistan when compared to Iraq: 30% higher.

Number of gallons of fuel per day used by the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan: 800,000.

Cost of a single gallon of gas delivered to the Afghan war zone on long, cumbersome, and dangerously embattled supply lines: Up to $100.

Number of gallons of fuel used to keep Marine tents cool in the Afghan summer and warm in winter: 448,000 gallons.

Number of troops from Georgia (not the U.S. state, but the country) being prepared by U.S. Marine trainers to be dispatched to Afghanistan to fight in spring 2010: 750.

Number of Colombian commandos to be sent to Afghanistan: Unknown, but Colombian commandos, trained by U.S. Special Forces and financed by the U.S. government, are reportedly to be dispatched there to fight alongside U.S. troops. (Note that both Georgia and Colombia are dependent on U.S. aid and support. Note also that neither the Georgians nor the Colombians would assumedly be bound by the sort of restrictive fighting rules that limit the actions of some NATO forces in Afghanistan.)

Percentage of American spy planes and unmanned aerial vehicles now devoted to Afghanistan: 66% (33% are in Iraq).

Number of American bombs dropped in Afghanistan in the first six months of 2009: 2,011 (a fall of 24% from the previous year, thanks evidently to a directive from U.S. commanding general in Afghanistan, Stanley A. McChrystal, limiting air attacks when civilians might be present).

Number of Afghan civilian deaths recorded by the U.N. January-July 2009: 1,013, a rise of 24% from the same period in 2008. (Unfortunately, Afghan deaths are generally covered sparingly, on an incident by incident basis, as in the deaths of an Afghan family traveling to a wedding party in August, assumedly due to a Taliban-planted IED, or the recent controversial U.S. bombing of two stolen oil tankers in Kunduz Province in which many civilians seem to have died. Anything like the total number of Afghans killed in these years remains unknown, but what numbers we have are undoubtedly undercounts.)

 
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