U.S. military aircraft deployed more munitions against targets in Afghanistan during the first 10 months of this year than during any other full calendar year since the Air Force began documenting monthly bomb usage there in 2006, according to new data from the Air Forces Central Command.
- Between January and October of 2018, U.S. forces dropped 5,982 bombs in Afghanistan, according to the data recorded by AFCENT's Combined Air Operations Center, a 37% increase from the 4,361 munitions deployed during all of 2017.
- In addition, coalition aircraft flew nearly 6,600 sorties, a 43% increase from the 4,603 conducted during all of 2017, although it's worth noting that the number of sorties that actually involved weapons releases went from 27% in 2017 to 12% in 2018 — a change that suggests fewer aircraft are dropping more bombs than ever before.
- The uptick in munition releases is somewhat unsurprising: Early in his campaign for the presidency, then-candidate Trump laid out a simple vision for ridding the Middle East of the terrorists: “bomb the shit out of ‘em.”
- But the new bombing data comes amid reports that President Donald Trump is pushing to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the 2020 presidential election, extricating his administration from a conflict that the commander-in-chief believes “we aren't winning,” as NBC News reported in August 2017.
- According to Stars and Stripes, the munitions deployed by U.S. aircraft were primarily focused on terrain denial, as well as depriving the Taliban of the drug labs that help fund the militants' years-long insurgency against the NATO-led mission there.