What's believed to be the first official government report by an independent inspector general to determine the "true cost" of United States reconstruction and stabilization missions in Afghanistan has "conservatively" identified 5,135 casualties, including 2,214 deaths, associated with such projects between April 17, 2002 and Dec. 31, 2018.
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan John F. Sopko sent the results of the report to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper among others last week. The investigation revealed 284 Americans and 1,447 Afghans killed (many more were wounded or kidnapped) in Afghanistan were performing reconstruction or stabilization missions, which involve "all direct or indirect" U.S. assistance in Afghanistan other than combat operations. That includes projects like rebuilding physical infrastructure or helping local political authorities manage conflict.
The data is incomplete and is scattered around many different places, so there's a chance the total number of casualties varies. Sopka's team subsequently left a harsh message for Washington in the report's conclusion. "While considerable effort is made to track the amount of U.S. dollars spent" on reconstruction and stabilization efforts, "this review shows that we do not adequately capture the human cost" of those projects, especially when it comes to third country nationals and Afghans, the report reads. Until the U.S. "considers the human costs," the true toll non-combat efforts have taken on Afghanistan can't be measured accurately. Read the full report here.
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