Ann Scott Tyson and Greg Jaffe
Washington Post 
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
U.S. deaths in Afghanistan have surged to a record high this month and are likely to remain elevated as American and NATO forces settle into outposts in southern Afghan villages and cities where Taliban forces have traditionally been the strongest.
The rising death toll comes as the country prepares for a presidential election next month, and could erode U.S. public support for a war that is already among the longest in U.S. history.
“This is probably the new normal,” said Seth G. Jones, an analyst for the Rand Corp. and author of a new book on the U.S. military’s nearly eight-year-old war in Afghanistan. “I’d actually be shocked if casualties didn’t continue to increase.”
A confluence of factors has contributed to July’s toll, which is the highest for U.S. troops in Afghanistan in any month since the war began in late 2001. Among them: President Obama’s new strategy ordering tens of thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan this year, a surge in offensive operations by both U.S. forces and the Taliban, and an increase in insurgents’ use of powerful roadside bombs.