By Kirsten Salyer
The number of Americans killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan is approaching the 5,000 mark, putting new weight on President Barack Obama's exit strategy and the foreign policies of the Republican presidential candidates.
As of Nov. 22, the number of Americans killed in action in both wars came to 4,984, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
That's only six people shy of the heavily symbolic 5,000-casualty mark, which will likely ignite more clashes over Pentagon spending on the two wars, the automatic defense cuts triggered by the supercommittee's failure, Obama’s plans to withdraw from Iraq by year’s end, and the president's decision to reduce troop numbers in Afghanistan.
During Tuesday night’s CNN debate by the Republican candidates, Mitt Romney echoed a Republican critique of Obama's plans, saying “This is not time for America to cut and run.” But Jon M. Huntsman Jr., a former ambassador to China, called for most American troops to leave Afghanistan quickly. Huntsman and Romney exchanged some sharp words even, with Mr. Huntsman, who has staked his candidacy on doing well in the Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary, declaring at one point that "We don't need 100,000 troops."
The two wars are responsible for 6,137 total deaths, including 1,333 non-hostile casualties. The Iraq war, which started in March 2003 and has lasted 3,171 days, was responsible for 4,486 casualties, and the Afghanistan war, which passed its 10-year mark this October, was responsible for 1,831. In total, there have been 47,061 Americans wounded in action in both theatres.
(Kirsten Salyer is the social media editor for Bloomberg View.)-0- Nov/23/2011 21:21 GMT