And considering we have about 26,000 troops in Afghanistan, the overall percentage proves that Afghanistan has been a much, much deadlier place for quite some time.

Not surprisingly, I found this news in a story about an attack by the Taliban that freed hundreds of inmates from an Afghan prison:

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – U.S. and NATO troops aided Afghan forces with reconnaissance in a hunt Saturday for 870 inmates who escaped prison after a sophisticated Taliban assault that even NATO conceded was a success for the militants.

A roadside bomb, meanwhile, killed four U.S. Marines sent to southwestern Afghanistan to help train the country’s fledgling police. The deadliest attack on American forces this year came one day after the U.S. defense secretary highlighted the fact that more American and allied troops were killed in Afghanistan than in Iraq last month.

Here are some numbers from the AP to chew on…

By the Pentagon’s count, 15 U.S. and two allied troops were killed in action in Iraq last month, a total of 17. In Afghanistan it was 19, including 14 Americans and five coalition troops. One month does not make a trend, but in this case the statistics are so out of whack with perceptions of the two wars that Gates could use them to drive home his point about Afghanistan. […]

However, I think the AP’s math is off when comparing the amount of forces in Afghan and Iraq:

The comparison is even more remarkable if you consider that there are about three times more U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq than in Afghanistan. Since the Iraq war began in March 2003, there have been just under 4,100 U.S. deaths â€” including more than 3,300 killed in action â€” according to the Pentagon’s count. In the Afghan campaign, which began in October 2001, the U.S. death total is just over 500, including 313 killed in action.

If I remember correctly, there are about 155,000 US troops in Iraq, and that’s not even counting the 180,000 private security contractors who operate as defacto soldiers in many ways. And since many of the “coalition” troops are gone, adding them to the total Iraq mix would only make a nominal difference.

So if the number of troops in Afghanistan is around the levels they were last November (26,000), then there are nearly 6 times more U.S troops in Iraq than in Afghanistan and not the 3 times the AP claims.

Given these realities, don’t we think it’s time to refocus our attention on the Afghanistan/Pakistan region, especially since we know it has a specific area set aside as a safe haven for terrorists?

More as it develops…

Politics More US Forces Killed In Afghanistan Last Month Than Iraq