The Washington Post reported this week that a cache of materials about the war in Afghanistan revealed that the U.S. mission there was failing spectacularly, leading to increasing service member and contractor deaths — not to mention tens of thousands of civilian casualties over the past two decades.
The internal documents obtained by the Washington Post have increased scrutiny of one of the most solemn ways the war is felt — the body count. Over 2,300 U.S. troops have died during the course of the war, along with 1,145 NATO and coalition troops. Presently, there are about 13,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Those tolls are likely exceeded, however, by that of the U.S. contractors who quietly performed some of the war's most dangerous functions — and whose deaths the Pentagon has never felt obligated to report to Americans.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Lyman Dickinson, an aviation-survival technician, is lowered into the water during a search-and-rescue exercise with the Mexican navy off the coast of Ensenada, Mexico, June 7, 2017. (U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 3rd Class Joel Guzman)
Twenty-four days into the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, the strain is being felt acutely by the U.S. Coast Guard, as some 42,000 active-duty members are preparing to miss their first paycheck on January 15.