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116 days: Longest period without a U.S. military combat-zone death since 9/11 ends

An Afghan security official stands guard outside the provincial governor’s compound in Nangahar province, Afghanistan, where a man opened fire on U.S. troops on Wednesday. (EPA/GHULAMULLAH HABIBI)

The death of a U.S. service member in an apparent insider attack in Afghanistan on Wednesday brought to end a noteworthy period: the longest span without a U.S. military death in a combat zone since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

At least one U.S. service member was killed and at least two others were wounded by an Afghan man in a military uniform, officials said. It was not immediately clear whether he was a member of the Afghan National Army or an insurgent who had stolen a uniform. Photographs distributed by the Associated Press show the body of the alleged shooter in Afghan army camouflage after his remains were moved to the back of an Afghan military pickup truck.

[U.S. soldier killed, 2 wounded in suspected ‘insider attack’ in Afghanistan]

The last U.S. military deaths in a combat zone came Dec. 12, when two soldiers — Sgt. 1st Class Ramon S. Morris, 37, and Spec. Wyatt J. Martin, 22 — died after their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan’s Parwan province. That’s a span of 116 full days in between.

Previously, the longest periods that the United States had gone without a military fatality in a war zone since 9/11 all occurred in 2002, before the United States invaded Iraq. Those periods lasted 56 days, 48 days and 43 days, respectively, according to a tally by The Washington Post.

[Gold Star dad notes the longest period with no U.S. military fatalities in a combat zone]

A father who lost his son in Afghanistan, Fred J. Boenig, memorably pointed out how long it had been since a U.S. military fatality during a Feb. 26 panel discussion moderated by Checkpoint at New York University’s campus in Washington featuring Michael Lumpkin, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii); Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.); and Army Col. Patrick Mahaney. It can be seen in its entirety here.

Video of Boenig’s comments is available here:

Although no U.S. military personnel had been killed in a war zone over the past four months, the death reported Wednesday does not mark the first time an American has been killed during that period.

In January, an Afghan soldier killed three American contractors at a military base attached to Kabul’s international airport, triggering a firefight in which the attacker was killed. A fourth American contractor was wounded in the ambush.

In Iraq, a Canadian soldier, Sgt. Andrew J. Doiron, 31, was killed in March after Kurdish soldiers in the northern part of the country opened fire, both Kurdish and Canadian officials said. It appears to have been a case of mistaken identity that led to the gunfire.

Julie Tate and Jacqueline Dupree contributed to this report.