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Secret Military Support of the Dutch government
‘The Special Forces losses in Afghanistan and Iraq are tremendous’
We started researching the background of the American requests to several allies to send Special Forces to Iraq and Afghanistan? Are the American Special Forces confronted with big losses? It was not easy to find concrete information on this question. The Pentagon told us that they could not provide us with figures. The American Special Forces expert Tim Brown of ‘Globalsecurity.org’ explained to us why the Pentagon tries to keep the numbers of the Special Forces losses classified. Brown said that combat related deaths sometimes even are covered up, for instance as training accidents. "They just say: ‘They were on a training mission and their helicopter crashed.’", Brown stated.
We started an intensive research on the Internet. We found a website called Lunaville with figures of all American military killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, exclusively based on releases of the Pentagon or the American armed forces. Besides the name of some of the casualties the special forces background was mentioned. But a lot of Special Forces casualties were not mentioned as Special Forces. So we had to look further. With the name of every victim we started to search. We came to hundreds of websites: local newspapers, local organizations, private sites, veteran organizations, military sites and so on.
A former Special Forces officer was willing to help us after we guaranteed that we would keep his identity secret. Together with him we found out that more then 50% of the killed American military in Afghanistan were Special Forces and nearly 10% of the American casualties in Iraq. That the losses for the American Special Forces must be dramatic became clear when we looked to the wounded. Here, we had neither figures nor lists of names. But from the US military hospital in Landstuhl (Germany) we got the total figures of all American military that were evacuated to this hospital from Afghanistan and Iraq. The total figure until April 20, 2004, the day that we were there, was: more then 2.300 for Afghanistan and more then 11.400 for Iraq. The former Special Forces officer who helped us with the interpretations said that it was allowed to assume that the Special Forces percentage under the wounded would be similar to the percentage under the dead. So, we could calculate that the total losses of US Special Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq between the autumn of 2001 and spring of 2004 must be more then 2.200. Precisely our calculation came to 114 killed American Special Forces and 2.112 evacuated to the Landstuhl hospital.
We did not succeed to get any official comment on this calculation. But defence expert Professor Rob de Wijk from the Clingendael Institute in The Hague was willing to have a close look at our findings. He called the results of our investigation "a revelation" and explained: "The number of Special Forces, the elite troops of every army, are limited. So, these losses in Afghanistan and Iraq are tremendous. This explains why the US is putting so much pressure on its allies, including The Netherlands, to send Special Forces to Afghanistan or Iraq."
A former Special Forces officer was willing to help us after we guaranteed that we would keep his identity secret.