- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 9, 2009

Seven Americans were killed in Afghanistan on Monday. This marks the deadliest day for American soldiers there since July 13, 2008, when 10 American and NATO troops died.

Four of the seven were military trainers stationed in the northern part of Afghanistan;they were killed when their vehicle was bombed. Two others died in the south in a blast, while another warrior died from wounds.

The toll is likely to rise as American forcescontinue their offensive against the Taliban in the southern province of Helmand. Under the planned surge, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan will reach 68,000 by the end of the year.

Since the onset of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001, 726 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan, according to icasualties.org, an independent Web site that tracks U.S. casualties in the war on terror.Other nations are also spilling blood. On the same bloody day on which seven Americans died in Afghanistan, three service members from other NATO nations perishedin a helicopter crash, marking a low point for coalition troops, as well.

Since 2001 in Afghanistan, there have been 496 combat deaths of allied coalition forces, in addition to thousands of Afghans who also perished while fighting the Taliban. The battle to stabilize this far-flung nation is an international effort, not merely an American enterprise.

Two nations, apart from the U.S., have endured the greatest loss of life: Britain and Canada. Britain has lost 176 soldiers, and Canada has buried 124 of its warriors. These figures demonstrate that, as in World War II, the Anglo-American-Canadian effort to preserve liberty is still a vibrant factor on the world stage.

Germany has suffered 33 deaths in Afghanistan, whereas other European nations such as France, Spain and Denmark have casualty rates numbering in the 20s. The Netherlands, Italy and Romania have suffered 19, 14 and 11 deaths, respectively. Australia has lost 10 warriors. All the other coalition members in Afghanistan have incurred single-digit losses.

These casualty rates are all the more revealing when they are compared to those in Iraq. Since the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, there have been a total of 4,321 American deaths, according to icasualties.org. The second highest casualty rate among coalition members is that of Britain, with 179 deaths. All the other nations combined suffered a total of 139 deaths; of these, the highest are Italy and Poland, with 33 and 23 deaths, respectively.

The American casualty rates show that the war has affected all ethnic groups and genders, although about 75 percent of those who died were white males. About 10.5 percent were Latino and 9.5 percent were black. There have been 111 female deaths — just more than2 percent of the total. The same breakdown was not available for Afghanistan.

The vast majority of deaths in both Afghanistan and Iraq areof service personnel between ages 19 and 25. These wars, like many others in history, have impacted the young the hardest.

As Americans mourn the latest casualties in Afghanistan, we should also remember the contribution of coalition forces. Which nations are standing shoulder to shoulder with America and making the greatest sacrifices in the most difficult of times? These alliances, forged in blood, are the truest and deepest mark of friendship.

• Grace Vuoto is the Editor of Base News, a citizen journalism project of The Washington Times for America’s military community.

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