Editor's Note: This story has been updated with unit information and quotes.
Two U.S. service members were killed Monday in Afghanistan, officials announced today, bringing the casualty total for the year to 15 deaths. This year's casualty count now matches the total for 2018, previously the deadliest year for Operation Freedom's Sentinel since the sustainment and advisory mission began in 2015.
The announcement came from the headquarters of Operation Resolute Support, the NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist Afghan troops in defending themselves. The service branch of the two troops was not identified in the announcement, nor was their location in Afghanistan or the nature of their deaths.
But in a short blog post Monday, Army. Col. Arthur Sellers, commanding officer of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, revealed the two troops were paratroopers with 3rd BCT.
"As you read this, Rear Detachment leaders are gathering resources and will make them available to the Paratroopers’ loved ones to help them in this most difficult time. The expertise of every staff member of this brigade and in the 82nd Airborne Division will be utilized to ensure the Families of the fallen are taken care of," he wrote in the post. "As we move forward together, I ask for your thoughts and prayers for the Families affected and for the Paratroopers of their unit who are still deployed."
The soldiers are the second and third service members to die in Afghanistan this month. On July 13, 40-year-old Army Sgt. Maj. James Sartor, a Green Beret with 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), out of Fort Carson, Colorado, was killed by enemy small arms fire during combat operations, according to a Defense Department release.
According to the Defense Casualty Analysis System maintained by the Pentagon, 13 U.S. service members had died in Afghanistan this year prior to Monday, with 10 hostile deaths and three non-hostile. In all of 2018, 15 service members died in Afghanistan.
Not counting Monday's casualties, 53 service members have been killed in hostile action in Afghanistan since the formal drawdown of combat operations in 2014 following a 13-year war. Twenty more have died in non-hostile circumstances.
-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.