Eighteen. It's a number the New York Times says hasn't been reported until now, and the number you'd arrive at by counting select chiseled stars in a wall at the CIA HQ in Langley, Va. It represents the number of CIA operatives killed in Afghanistan since 9/11, and the Times provides context: It's "a tally ... that rivals the number of CIA operatives killed in the wars in Vietnam and Laos nearly a half century ago." It sees the count as a reflection of the heavy sacrifice the agency has made in Afghanistan over the past 16 years as well as the agency's creep toward the front lines. These are not men who are easily replaced. Many were part of the CIA's paramilitary force, the Special Activities Division, including the two whose July 14 funeral anchors the Times' account.
Brian Hoke and Nathaniel Delemarre were buried together in Arlington, with the Times piecing together what it could of their secretive backgrounds and the attack that took their lives. Both married with children, the two were part of an Oct. 21, 2016, assault on an ISIS stronghold in Jalalabad; Hoke was apparently shot and Delemarre came to his aid. Hoke died quickly, and a wounded Delemarre died in Germany. Hoke's wife had this to say of her husband in an email to the Times: He was "the kind of person movies are made about, as are most of his colleagues. Unbelievable human beings." Read the full story for more on the others who died, including seven lost on one deadly day.