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.
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."