Wednesday marks the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, which led to a long legacy of war. That was thrown into sharp relief this week when President Trump abruptly announced Saturday that he was canceling months of negotiations with the Taliban, even as he aims to fulfill a promise of ending America’s “endless wars.”
The U.S. war in Afghanistan has led to the deaths of about 2,400 American service members, including 16 in combat action this year. Some 20,000 more have been wounded, many grievously.
But there’s another set of revealing numbers about the war that exposes its sprawling nature. Data provided by the Pentagon shows that more than 775,000 U.S. service members have deployed to Afghanistan at least once. The numbers detail the story of a war that has persisted for an entire generation.
Among the key details:
— About half of all U.S. veterans of Afghanistan served one deployment there, but many served more. At least 28,267 U.S. troops have deployed there five or more times.
— The Army, the Pentagon’s largest service, has deployed the most troops to Afghanistan. More than 491,500 soldiers have served there, including active-duty forces, Army reservists and National Guardsmen.
— The Air Force, whose presence in Afghanistan has persisted even as the overall number of troops shrank, has deployed the second most, with about 123,000 airmen involved.
— The Marine Corps deployed about 20,000 service members at a time during the height of the war in 2010 and 2011. Overall, more than 114,000 Marines deployed.
— Each military service has a legacy there, including the Coast Guard. More than 100 Coasties have served in the conflict.