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July Was Deadliest Month for U.S. Forces in Afghanistan

Margaret Warner updates the U.S. war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan then speaks with a Washington Post reporter about the latest military strategy.

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  • MARGARET WARNER:

    It's been the deadliest month yet for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, with 42 killed there in July. For the same month in Iraq, U.S. casualties were the lowest since that war began.

    The news from both fronts comes amidst a growing debate within military circles over whether the U.S. should accelerate its withdrawal from Iraq and further increase its military presence in Afghanistan.

    Though violence continues in Iraq, bombings in Baghdad killed at least 29 Iraqis today. Just 7 U.S. troops died this month, down from 15 in June.

    But since the June 30th U.S. withdrawal from Iraqi cities, tensions have arisen over the Iraqis' growing reluctance to conduct joint patrols and Iraqi restrictions on how U.S. forces can operate on their own.

    In an internal memo circulating widely in Washington and reported today in the New York Times, a U.S. Army colonel advising the Iraqi military said it was time to "declare victory" and pull all U.S. forces out well ahead of the December 2011 deadline.

    "The security of U.S. forces are at risk," he wrote, because of the new restrictions. And he added, "Remaining in Iraq through the end of December 2011 will yield little in the way of improving the abilities of the Iraqi security forces or the functioning of the government of Iraq."

    A spokeswoman for General Ray Odierno, the senior U.S. commander in Iraq, said the memo "reflects one person's personal view," not that of the U.S. military.

    In Afghanistan, where U.S. troop deaths are up 50 percent since June, roadside bombs are the biggest killer. Most of the deaths occurred in the east and in the south, where the bulk of new U.S. troops were deployed this year. They're mounting a major offensive against the Taliban in Helmand province.

    The top allied commander, General Stanley McChrystal, explained recently why it was so deadly in the south.