Afghan insurgents are reported to be more frequently targeting civilians believed to be cooperating with the government. During the first half of 2013, 231 children have been killed in Afghanistan. Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are the greatest cause of civilian deaths, with casualties up 53 percent over the same span of 2012.
According to the Pentagon, 2012 alone saw roughly 1,900 U. S. casualties resulting from almost 15,000 IED incidents.
Sixty-two coalition personnel were killed last year in insider attacks by uniformed Afghans, also known as “Green on Blue” attacks, an amount almost double that of 2011. This year, 10 coalition soldiers have been killed in Green on Blue attacks.
Beginning in October 2010, some insurgents were permitted to turn themselves in to the Afghan government on the basis of a newly established “Reintegration Program”. The program requires former insurgents to cooperate with the Afghan National Department of Security by offering up information and surrendering weapons, thus being allowed to reintegrate into Afghan society peacefully. Participants are tracked biometrically to ensure continued cooperation.
Average temperatures in Bagram can vary from highs in the mid-90s during the summer to lows in the mid-20s during the winter months. Extreme temperatures have been known to climb into the triple digits and plunge below zero.
Bagram Airfield is located roughly 25 miles north of Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul.
Many local residents of Bagram village are employed on the airfield.
A large majority of airmen deployed to Bagram live in Camp Cunningham, a compound named for Pararescueman Jason Cunningham. Cunningham received an Air Force Cross for his actions during a rescue mission in Afghanistan in 2002. His efforts, under direct enemy fire that ultimately claimed his life, led to the rescue of 10 severely wounded U.S. servicemen.
Bagram Airfield’s hospital is the largest operated by U.S. forces in Operation Enduring Freedom. It is named for Heathe Craig, an Army Staff Sergeant who was killed during a 2006 rescue mission in Afghanistan.
The U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is now the nation’s longest war, recently surpassing Vietnam.
The U.S. plans to begin a significant drawdown of troops from Afghanistan, with President Obama stating his intent to bring 34,000 service members – roughly half the amount currently deployed – home by early 2014.
Although the exact numbers are still being negotiated, it is thought that roughly 9,000 U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan after completion of the formal drawdown. This continued presence would be tasked with the ongoing training of Afghanistan’s security forces.
Bagram Airfield is located in a valley in the Hindu Kush mountain range, at an elevation of almost 5,000 feet. The surrounding mountains contain peaks over 15,000 feet, though the highest peak in the range is Tirich Mir at over 25,000 feet.
The explosives used in the July 2nd attack in Kabul weighed roughly 4,400 pounds, a size similar to the explosive that killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995 and over three times the size of the bomb used in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.