More Americans in Afghanistan now than Soviets at the peak of their War

Tuesday, Sep 08, 2009

Summary of the differences between Soviet and U.S. Afghanistan Wars, to-date:

Statistics for current American involvement, western intelligence reports for Soviet involvement, and The Washington Post's Faces of the Fallen for current soldiers dead in our wars:

As reflected in Table 1, as of March 2009, there were 68,197 DOD contractors in Afghanistan, compared to 52,300 uniformed personnel. Contractors made up 57% of DOD’s workforce in Afghanistan (see Figure 5). This apparently represented the highest recorded percentage of contractors used by DOD in any conflict in the history of the United States.

Congressional Research Service, Department of Defense Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan: Background and Analysis, Moshe Schwartz, Specialist in Defense Acquisition, August 13, 2009, Page 8, http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/128824.pdf.

The last Soviet soldier came home from Afghanistan this morning, the Soviet Union announced, leaving behind a war that had become a domestic burden and an international embarrassment for Moscow.

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At the height of the Soviet commitment, according to Western intelligence estimates, there were 115,000 troops deployed.

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The war cost the Soviet Union roughly 15,000 lives and undisclosed billions of rubles. It scarred a generation of young people and undermined the cherished image of an invincible Soviet Army. Moscow's involvement in Afghanistan was often compared to the American experience in the Vietnam War, in which more than 58,000 Americans died.

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The first Soviet troops parachuted into Kabul on Dec. 27, 1979, to assist Babrak Karmal, who had become President in a coup within the Communist leadership.

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The Soviet-backed Kabul Government has generally kept a firm grip on the cities, but throughout the war has been unable to rout the rebels in the countryside, where the conservative populace was antagonized at the outset by changes in social and land policies that offended Muslim tradition.

Last Soviet Soldiers leave Afghanistan after 9 Years, 15,000 Dead and Great Cost, Bill Keller, The New York Times, February 16, 1989, http://www.nytimes.com/1989/02/16/world/last-soviet-soldiers-leave-afghanistan-after-9-years-15000-dead-and-great-cost.html.

Total Fatalities Operation Iraqi Freedom [Iraq]: 4,326 Operation Enduring Freedom [Afghanistan]: 804 (Updated September 8, 2009)

Recent Afghanistan Casualties, The Washington Post, September 9, 2009, http://projects.washingtonpost.com/fallen/afghanistan/.