The United States’ war in Afghanistan reached a new milestone this week when the death toll of Americans killed in the decade-long Operation Enduring Freedom reached 2,000.
The US Department of Defense reports this week that Cpl. Taylor J. Baune, 21, of Andover, Minnesota lost his life in Helmand province, Afghanistan on Wednesday. The marine wed his high-school sweetheart earlier this year, only to be deployed overseas by the military and killed just three months later. The Pentagon has not released information about the cause of death.
The Star Tribune reports that Baune’s commitment with the US Marines was slated to expire this year, at which point he was expected to retire from the Armed Services because he did not intend on spending his life in the military. Now, however, he will live forever as a statistic in America’s longest on-going war by becoming the two-thousandths US soldier to die during the post-9/11 response to al-Qaeda and Taliban-affiliated insurgents.
The death of Cpl. Baune comes only weeks after the Defense Department revealed another shocking statistic: according to the Pentagon’s latest research, the rate of suicide among activity duty American soldiers is currently at around one-per-day.
“It’s a sign in general of the stress the Army has been under over the 10 years of war,” Dr. Stephen N. Xenakis, a retired Army brigadier general and a practicing psychiatrist, tells the Associated Press. “We’ve seen before that these signs show up even more dramatically when the fighting seems to go down and the Army is returning to garrison.”
US President Barack Obama flew to Afghanistan last month to finalize plans with that country’s president, Hamid Karzai, that would expedite America’s exit from the war. Operation Enduring Freedom has so far killed 2,000 US troop in roughly 3,900 days, but is expected to continue through 2014.
The results of a Reuters/Ipsos survey published last month reveal that 88 percent of the Americans polled are in favor of taking all US combat troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2012.