The U.S. military has ended its practice of publicizing the number of enemy combatants killed in Afghanistan, The New York Times reports.
The American military has announced the deaths of over 2,500 enemy fighters in about three dozen statements, with 1,700 casualties announced in a three-week period spread across June and July. On Thursday, the military informed the Times that the practice has stopped in response to questions from the newspaper.
“We realize strikes, body counts, and leaders removed from the battlefield are not decisive on their own and we don’t claim they are,” military spokesperson Colonel David M. Butler told the Times in the email. “This command is going to refrain from publishing this type of information unless absolutely necessary to provide context in extenuating circumstances.”
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has publicly voiced his opposition to the practice, which harkens back to the Vietnam War.
“You all know of the corrosive effect of that sort of metric back in the Vietnam War,” Mattis said in April 2017, after he declined to provide a body count for an American bombing in eastern Afghanistan targeting the Islamic State. “It’s something that has stayed with us all these years.”
“For many years, we have not been calculating the results of warfare by simply quantifying the number of enemy killed,” he said.
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