July 15, 2010 -- Already on track to be the deadliest year ever for American and NATO forces in Afghanistan since the Taliban was overthrown in late 2001, 2010 also will be the worst year ever for numbers of Americans wounded in the war.
In fact, the number of American service members wounded this year already has approached the number wounded for all of 2009.
Pentagon figures reflect the growing violence in Afghanistan this year as more troops arrive and the Taliban increases the number of its attacks against coalition forces pushing into areas they long controlled.
According to numbers compiled by the Defense Manpower Data Center, 2,000 Americans have been wounded in Afghanistan through July 3. That is almost as many as the 2,139 that were wounded in 2009. The 2009 wounded figures were themselves a three-fold increase over the previous year.
In another alarming statistic, four times as many American service members have been wounded in the first six months of 2010 as were wounded in the same time frame a year ago.
Through the end of June, 1,922 American service members have been wounded in Afghanistan. That compares to 485 wounded through the same time period last year.
June not only was the deadliest month ever for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, as 60 service members died in the conflict, but it also was the month that saw the highest number of American wounded.
In June, 517 Americans were wounded, continuing a trend from May, when 406 were wounded.
For comparison, the previous record high since the start of the war in Afghanistan was the 416 wounded in August 2009.
The 30,000 additional military forces ordered into Afghanistan this year by the Obama administration continue to stream in and have boosted American troop levels in Afghanistan to 95,000. Their numbers will peak at around 100,000 in a few months as the surge of forces is completed.
The increasing number of American fatalities and wounded this year were not unexpected given that senior Pentagon officials warned that casualties would rise as number of American troops on the ground increased and they moved into areas long controlled by the Taliban.
The Taliban insurgency also has increased the number of attacks used against coalition forces in Afghanistan. For example, through June, the number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or roadside bombs used by the Taliban in Afghanistan had increased 22 percent over last year's numbers.
The Joint IED Defeat Organization, the Pentagon agency leading the effort to counter the use of roadside bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq, said that through mid-June, IEDs were responsible for 182 coalition fatalities in Afghanistan, which includes American and NATO troops. They accounted for 1,202 of the total number of coalition wounded through that same period.
But the Taliban's increased use of roadside bombs is affecting more than just American troops. At a Pentagon briefing this week, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said the Taliban is deliberately targeting civilians "at an increasingly high rate."
"Despite their rhetoric, which says they only utilize explosive devices, remotely operated explosive devices, to kill Americans or coalition forces," Morrell said, "clearly, the facts tell otherwise. They are killing civilians at an alarming rate."
According to Morrell, the Taliban was responsible for 89 percent of the 160 civilian casualties that have taken place since June 1.
Since the start of the war in Afghanistan, there have been 6,773 Americans wounded in combat, significantly less than the 31,882 wounded in Iraq since the invasion in 2003. However, until recently the number of American forces in Afghanistan was significantly less than those sent to Iraq.
The worst year for American wounded in Iraq was 2004, when 8,005 service members were wounded in combat as the Iraqi insurgency began in earnest.