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Report: U.S. Troop Casualties Down in 2011

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- For the first time in four years, U.S. military deaths dropped in 2011, USA Today reports. U.S. military troops have recently experienced successful runs against Taliban insurgents and coalition forces.

According to Pentagon reports compiled by USA Today, deaths of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan totaled 405 in 2011 -- an 18-percent decline from the previous year.  Also in 2011, allied deaths, including U.S. outfits, totaled 545 -- down from 699 in 2010. According to the reports, the death toll for coalition forces had been climbing since 2005.

Despite the encouraging numbers, a think tank analyst told USA Today that the declining number of U.S. casualties is not the best gauge for progress in the war with Afghan insurgents.

Although these numbers can impact American public opinion, Seth Jones tell USA Today, "The struggle is for the hearts and minds of the Afghan population."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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