U.S. forces operating under NATO command surpassed a decade of fighting in Afghanistan-the longest war in U.S. history. The year 2011 was the third-highest year for U.S. casualties there, with over 400 dead, and Aug. 6 marked the deadliest single day of the war for U.S. forces-when 30 U.S. troops died aboard a Chinook helicopter that crashed in Tangi Valley after a rocket-propelled grenade hit the rotor. The Taliban claimed responsibility.
Authorities blamed Taliban-linked factions in Pakistan for a deadly day of bombing that killed 60 Afghans in Kabul and wounded over 160 on Dec. 6. Despite progress in the war on terror and improvements to the Afghan economy, President Hamid Karzai told a donor conference in Bonn, "We will need your steadfast support for at least another decade."
In October President Barack Obama announced the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq by year's end, down from a peak of 170,000 in 2007 and with nearly 4,500 deaths in the nine-year war. But conflict continues for Iraq's embattled religious minorities. A 2011 State Department report found Iraq's Christian community halved from its 2003 level, a staggering depletion of a community that dates back well over a thousand years, wrote 37 members of Congress in a letter to Obama ahead of a December White House meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.