RAWA News, January 20, 2011

“Eid Gul was just one of 69 Afghan Civilians Killed by US/NATO Forces during December 2010”

Everyday life in Afghanistan was dangerous for children, women, Afghan Army and Police forces, clerics, road workers, public officials, saying night-time prayers, sleeping, driving to lunch, etc

By Marc W. Herold

The Obama administration’s effort to persist in carrying out a deadly war in Afghanistan outside the public’s eye has been succeeding. Three means are employed: tight control over news flowing out of Afghanistan; vastly greater reliance upon secretive night raids by U.S. Special Forces; and a stepped-up use of private contractors/mercenaries on the ground in Afghanistan. The latter effort is crucial in helping reduce reported U.S. military casualties in Afghanistan, the primary factor which affects domestic U.S. politics.

Every now and then, the mainstream media reports upon a particularly egregious incident which took place in Afghanistan. Nowhere can a reader get a sense of the overall level of pain inflicted upon average Afghan civilians by the actions of U.S. and NATO occupation forces. This brief essay paints a picture of ground reality in Afghanistan during the month of December 2010. The United Nations’ UNAMA releases overall figures, but the data is simply presented in aggregate fashion and we are asked to believe. A skeptic cannot fact check the numbers. We are simply asked to believe these faith-based numbers. As I have noted many times, the UNAMA figures for civilians killed by U.S/NATO actions are at best around 70% of the actual numbers killed.(1) ( #note1 )For example, for 2009, the UNAMA captured less than 60% of the civilians who perished.

Cumulative total of civilians killed during December 2010
Graph 1. Cumulative total of civilians killed during December 2010.

The graph above plots the cumulative total of Afghan civilians killed in U.S/NATO military actions during December 2010. The total is 68-69 persons, a greater December toll than in the previous two years:

Civilians killedForeign occupation forces
from hostile action*
Ratio civ to occupation forces
December 20084226 (US @ 2)1.58
December 200957-6132 (US @ 15)1.84
December 201068-6939 (US @ 32)1.77

*Data from the Web-based compilation at http://www.icasualties.org/oef/

The data for 2010 is a serious undercount because of the dramatic increase of deadly night raids by U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) forces whose raids are clandestine and about which only limited reporting exists.(2) ( #note2 )

A comparison (Table 1) indicates the level of Afghan civilian deaths at the hands of the foreign occupation forces has oscillated around 900 per year since 2007. On the other hand, the level of foreign occupation soldiers’ deaths caused by hostile action has soared since 2007. The share of U.S occupation soldiers’ deaths of the total foreign occupation toll has risen from 35% in 2007 to 70% in 2010. The Table demonstrates the crucial role NATO forces played in fighting America’s Afghan war during the earlier years. In 2007, NATO casualties accounted for 55% of the total, but by 2010 the figure was a mere 30%.

Table 1. Civilian and Occupation Force Deaths in Afghanistan, 2006-2010

YearCivilian casualtiesOccupation force deaths
(@ U.S.)
Ratio of civ deaths to occup.
force deaths
2006660 - 782130 (65)5.1 – 6.0
20071010 - 1297184 (83)5.5 - 7.0
2008864 - 1017263 (133)3.3 - 3.9
2009936 - 1087451 (266)2.1 - 2.4
2010807 - 915632 (440)1.3 – 1.4
Total….4277 - 50981660 (987)2.6 – 3.1

Everyday life in Afghanistan was dangerous for children, women, Afghan Army and Police forces, clerics, road workers, public officials, saying night-time prayers, sleeping, driving to lunch, etc. The relative lethality for Afghan civilians versus U.S/NATO occupation forces is captured by the ratio in the last columns above which derives the ratio of Afghan civilians killed per foreign occupation soldier death. In 2006-7, five Afghan civilians died for every dead occupation soldier, but by 2010 this ratio was only 1.3, reflecting the shift in U.S. tactics towards using ground attacks as opposed to aerial bombing. On the other hand, ground attacks can be very deadly. For December 2010, 19 Afghan civilians died from air attacks, 45-46 from ground strikes and 4 from drone strikes (in the Pakistan border region). The numbers who were killed in secretive night-time SOCOM force strikes are no doubt mostly omitted from the reported totals above.

The following Table 2 presents a summary of the twenty-five U.S/NATO attacks which resulted in Afghan civilians being killed.

Table 2. Deadly Attacks by U.S/NATO forces during December 2010

DatePlace# victims and detailsType of attack
Dec 1-7Maidan Wardak11 AM night raid
Dec 4Ghazni1 girl injured who diedair
Dec 4Paktia7 road laborersground attack
Dec 6North Waziristan 2drone
Dec 7Logar2 Afghan Army soldiersair
Dec 8Helmand3 womenair
Dec 8Kunar2ground
Dec 10 Kandahar7-8 clergy menground
Dec 11-13KunarEstimated 7 killedground
Dec 11Paktia7ground
Dec 14Marja, Helmand1air
Dec 14Kunduz2ground
Dec 15/16Helmand4 Afghan Army soldiersair
Dec 17Nangarhar2night raid
Dec 18/19Helmand2 men (Abdul Aziz and Eid Gul) night raid
Dec 19Nangarhar3Air
Dec 21Helmand2 childrenground
Dec 21Helmand3 womenground
Dec 22Ghazni1Air
Dec 23Faryab2 men (incl Mohammad Aminuddin)Air
Dec 24Kabul city2 night guardsnight raid
Dec 27Kapisa2 sons of Mosafir (Walid and Khan)mortar fire
Dec 28North Waziristan Estimated 2drone
Dec 30Maidan WardakInjured girl diesground

The provinces with the highest civilian toll were Helmand (15), Paktia (14), and Kunar (9).

Details beyond those mentioned in the Table are hard to come by for many of the attacks. The raid carried out on December 18, 2010 in the Lashkari bazaar area by NATO forces accompanied by the notorious soldiers of the Afghan National Security directorate, all of a sudden arrived by helicopter as the guests Eid Gul and Abdul Aziz, both aged over 50, were preparing for evening prayer. The attackers stormed into the home, killing both guests, injuring another man and abducting two other people.(3) ( #note3 )

At 11 A.M., on December 23rd, a NATO helicopter opened fire on a convoy of five cars driving 5 kms outside the provincial capital, Maymana of Faryab province. The travelers were going to a luncheon event hosted by a local council head. The NATO helicopter strafed one vehicle killing a police officer and Mohammad Aminuddin, brother of former Afghan parliament member Sarajuddin Mozafari. Two other policemen and a civilian were wounded.(4) ( #note4 )


The death tolls for Afghan civilians killed by U.S/NATO actions were 54-61 for November and 149-165 for October 2010. Nothing suggests a change in this daily slaughter. As Hornberger asserted in the “The Banality of Killing,”(5) ( #note5 ) average Americans place no value upon the lives of Afghans, Iraqis and Pakistanis. Killing them has been normalized and trivialized. Any ways, “they” hide amongst civilians or are terrorists or enemy combatants. As Hornberger put it,

Never mind that our public officials have had 10 years to kill terrorists and enemy combatants to their hearts’ content but apparently still haven’t gotten them all. Never mind that the terrorists and enemy combatants might well now consist primarily of people who are simply trying to oust their country of a foreign occupier, like people did when it was the Soviet Union that was doing the occupying. Never mind that the number of terrorists and enemy combatants continues to rise with each new killing. It’s all just part and parcel of the new normality for American society.


1- See “Obama/Pentagon Lies to Set the War Narrative and Where Afghan Civilian Deaths do Matter,” RAWA News (December 10, 2010) at http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2010/12/10/obama-pentagon-lies-to-set-the-war-narrative-and-where-afghan-civilian-deaths-do-matter.html

2- Jason Motlagh and Loyi Rud, “Why Night Raids May Doom U.S. Prospects in Afghanistan,” Time (December 18, 2010) at http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2037444,00.html and Richard Oppel Jr and Abdul Waheed Wafa, “Afghan Investigators Say U.S. Troops Tried to Cover Up Evidence in Botched Raid,” New York Times (April 6, 2010) at http://www.worldcantwait.net/index.php/features-mainmenu-220/the-war-of-terror/6257-us-admits-troops-killed-afghan-civilians-at-baby-shower

3- From “Helicopter Night Raid Leaves 2 Dead,” Pajhwok Afghan News (December 19, 2010)

4- “Three Die as Air Strike, Suicide Bomb Hit Afghanistan,” Agence France Presse (December 23, 2010 at 6:30 PM GMT)

5- Jacob G. Hornberger, “The Banality of Killing,” LewRockwell.com (January 13, 2011) at http://www.lewrockwell.com/hornberger/hornberger185.html

Published on Jan. 13, 2010

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