A Soldiers assigned to the 510th Route Clearance Company, 20th Engineer Battalion, conduct a route clearance patrol in Kandahar City, Afghanistan, November 25, 2010. The 510th Route Clearance Company, 20th Engineer Battalion, conducts route clearance missions throughout the city. UPI/Ernesto Hernandez Fonte/US Navy | License Photo
KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- The number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan by roadside bombs jumped by 60 percent in 2010, while the number of wounded nearly tripled, military data show.
New statistics indicate 268 U.S. troops were killed by improvised explosive devices last year, roughly the same number of the three previous years combined, The Washington Post reported. More than 3,360 troops were injured, an increase of 178 percent from the previous y ear.
U.S. military officials said an increase in attacks was anticipated when considering the surge of U.S. and NATO troops and more intense fighting. Officials note, however, the jump came despite more countermeasures, such as mine-clearing machines, fertilizer-sniffing dogs and blimps equipped with spy cameras.
Army Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, chief of the Pentagon's IED Defeat Organization, said the percentage of IED attacks that led to casualties actually fell in recent months, from 25 percent last summer to 16 percent in December.
"My main concern is driving these effective attacks down," he said. "We're enjoying success there, and I do believe we're going to continue to reduce (the enemy's) effectiveness."
Oates and others have cited figures indicating IEDs killed fewer NATO-led coalition troops last year than in 2009 -- 447 versus 430.
Afghan insurgents planted 14,661 IEDs last year, a 62 percent increase from 2009, the military said.
Army Col. George Shuplinkov, head of counter-IED programs for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, expressed guarded optimism the number of roadside bombs has peaked.
"I think this (past) year we stopped the momentum," Shuplinkov told the Post. "We will know next spring. If it starts spiking back up in May or June, we'll have to reassess."