As Afghan Military Deaths Soar, Officials Struggle to Keep Toll Secret

US, Afghan officials don't want true extent of disaster known

The last official figures on Afghan military deaths came out in 2016. 22 soldiers were killed on an average day, and this was so bad that Afghan and US officials decided that death tolls would subsequently be kept secret

Things have just gotten worse, and 22 deaths would be a comparatively mild day compared to media reports on the death tolls in recent days. In the past week, the average day has seen roughly 57 deaths among Afghan security forces.

The Pentagon’s recent decision to more heavily publicize Taliban body counts, to try to sell the war to the administration, likely comes from the same place as the decision to keep Afghan military deaths secret, as this will just reveal the extent of the conflict’s failure.

The Afghan government wants to avoid publicizing it, in particular, because it’s having a negative effect on recruitment. The Afghan military doesn’t pay well, and the hugely dangerous reality of the job would just further harm their already struggling recruiting numbers.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of