32-day stretch of no U.S. military combat deaths is longest in 6 years

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No U.S. military personnel have died in combat since Jan. 20, a 32-day stretch that is the longest in six years and marks a welcome trend in the deadly 11-year war, the Department of Defense said Thursday.

Sgt. Mark Schoonhoven of Plainwell, Mich., died last month from wounds suffered Dec. 15, 2012, when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device in Kabul, but the 32 days since then marks the longest period without a fatal casualty since the 57 days between Dec. 15, 2006, and Feb. 8, 2007, the DOD said.

The lull in deaths comes as President Obama plans to bring some 34,000 troops home from Afghanistan within a year, just over half of the 66,000 still stationed in the region.

Lt. Cmdr. Bill Speaks, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, offered several reasons for the stretch, including the fact that the winter months have usually seen the lowest casualties.

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