KABUL — The number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan has roughly doubled in the first three months of 2010 compared with the same period last year, as Washington has added tens of thousands of soldiers to reverse the Taliban's momentum.
Those deaths have been accompanied by a dramatic spike in the number of wounded, with injuries more than tripling in the first two months of the year and trending in the same direction based on the latest available data for March.
U.S. officials have warned that casualties are likely to rise even further as the Pentagon completes its deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and sets its sights on the Taliban's home base of Kandahar province.
"We must steel ourselves, no matter how successful we are on any given day, for harder days yet to come," Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a briefing last month.
In total, 57 U.S. troops were killed during the first two months of 2010 compared with 28 in January and February of last year, according to Pentagon figures compiled by the Associated Press. At least 20 American service members have been killed so far in March.
The steady rise in combat deaths has generated less public reaction in the United States than the spike in casualties last summer and fall, which undermined public support in the U.S. for the 8-year-old American-led mission. Fighting traditionally tapers off in Afghanistan during winter months.
As of Saturday, 945 U.S. troops have died in the Afghanistan war. Identifications as reported by the U.S. military and not previously published:
• Navy Chief Petty Officer Adam Brown, 36, Hot Springs, Ark.; March 18; Afghanistan.
• Marine Lance Cpl. Rick J. Centanni, 19, Yorba Linda, Calif.; combat Wednesday; Helmand province.
• Army Sgt. Joel D. Clarkson, 23, Fairbanks, Alaska; died March 16 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, of wounds suffered on March 13 during combat in Helmand province.
• Marine Sgt. Maj. Robert J. Cottle, 45, Whittier, Calif.; combat Wednesday; Helmand province.
• Army Sgt. 1st Class Carlos M. Santos-Silva, 32, Clarksville, Tenn.; explosion Monday; Kandahar province.