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Afghanistan… When Europe came to the aid of the Americans

(B2) 17 years after the start of NATO's intervention in Afghanistan, it is good to remember…

(credit: Bundeswehr/Andrea Bienert)

In the balance of European and American efforts, and the celebration of the vital American effort for Europe in the wars of 14-18 and 39-45, we often forget the more recent but equally notable effort of the Europeans. in response to the Americans' appeal for help in Afghanistan. An intervention implemented within the framework of NATO, at the initiative of the Americans and according to their main orientations, after the attacks of September 11, 2001, but which aroused a clear commitment from the Europeans.

A third of the workforce...

According to the B2 database on Afghanistan, Europeans have in fact provided (all countries combined, Denmark and the United Kingdom included) around a third of the troops – which is not negligible.

…and a quarter of the losses

They suffered during the 17 years of intervention - in the ISAF, the international security assistance force (or International Security Assistance Force IFAS) then in the operation Resolute Support —, 25% of losses: at least 875 deaths noted exactly out of the 3557 totaled on the intervention by the icasultaties site (1). And again, this figure is a minimum because it does not take into account the soldiers who subsequently died.

The United Kingdom was by far the most 'committed' country with 455 deaths, followed by France (90 deaths) and Germany (57 deaths) (2). Proportionally to its size, however, it was Denmark which paid the heaviest price (43 deaths). Outside the EU, it is Canada (with 158 deaths).

The count of the injured more difficult

The number of injured is more difficult to record. On the one hand because countries do not really bring these statistics into the open. On the other hand because this data is more complex to compile.

2188 wounded in action among the British

To get an idea, we can take the example of the British commitment, the most notable and the most documented. Over the period 2001-2014, the British recorded 7436 wounded and sick (all causes) admitted to their field hospitals. Of this figure, there are 5248 sick and wounded outside combat and 2188 wounded 'in action', including 616 seriously injured. This leads to a dead/injured ratio of 1:5 if we take only the latter figure (and a ratio of 1:16 in total). 250 soldiers suffered amputation according to official statistics compiled by the daily The Guardian. This does not include victims, in particular of psychological disorders, who would then declare themselves.

And 450 among the French

For France, over the same period, according to an epidemiological study carried out by the army doctor at the Percy hospital, Clément Hoffmann, with several colleagues (3), there were 89 deaths and 991 wounded and sick, including 450 in combat or by IED. That is to say a death/wounded ratio of 1 to 5, roughly identical to the British.

An estimate of 4300 injured

If we apply this ratio to European losses, we reach a figure of around 4300 wounded resulting from the engagement in Afghanistan for the troops of the different countries of the European Union.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

  1. European Union countries only (UK included). Figures provided by icasualties, compiled for the EU by B2.
  2. The statistics of icasualties are sometimes underestimated compared to national figures which take into account subsequent deaths.
  3. To download here

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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