A sobering milestone: No U.S. troops killed in combat during the month of March
March marked a significant milestone in the seemingly endless cycle of war that the United States has been embroiled in since 9/11: No U.S. troops died in combat during the month, the first time this has happened in 11 years.
According to the website iCasualties.org, which tracks official data on fatalities in both Iraq and Afghanistan, March was the first month with no U.S. troop casualties in either country since 2002. Although fatalities in Iraq had tapered off in 2011, it was the first time since January 2007 that no U.S. troops died in Afghanistan. (March was not entirely without casualties, however, as two deaths of coalition troops were recorded during the month.)
After the deaths of more than 2,300 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and nearly 4,500 in Iraq since the wars began, a month where the number hits zero is certainly good news. But it is also a good opportunity to remember the many lives that have been lost on both sides of the conflict over the past decade and the terrible toll that these wars--which often seem invisible because they are being waged so far outside our line of vision--have taken.
It is also a good opportunity to remember the needs of the U.S. troops wounded in both Iraq and Afghanistan--nearly 50,000 according to the data from iCasualties--not to mention the thousands who have suffered emotional and psychological wounds. These men and women who survived the battle but still carry the scars should not be forgotten once they return to life back home.
This decade-plus of war has been undoubtedly brutal, but this latest statistic offers a sign of hope for the future. Let's pray that it isn't just an anomaly, but rather the beginning of a more peaceful time.