The Pentagon has scrubbed years of data about American servicemembers deployed to combat zones in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria from quarterly reports about the number of troops serving overseas.
Military Times reports:
The Defense Manpower Data Center for years has reported quarterly the number of active duty, National Guard and Reserve forces assigned to each state and stationed at each country overseas.
When asked last week why the quarterly December report still had not posted, a defense official said “DMDC is currently updating their policy for these reports. The information should be available soon, and retroactive numbers will be available.”
The Pentagon publishes the manpower reports three months after the quarter ends.
For the latest report (December 2017), the Pentagon left blank the spaces where Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan data used to be.
At the bottom of the online document, the Pentagon explains, “With ongoing operations, any questions concerning DoD [Department of Defense] personnel strength numbers are deferred to OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense] Public Affairs/Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
“They also stripped Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan numbers from the previously released September report, with the same disclaimer,” notes Military Times. “The Defense Department has also now scrubbed years worth of the previous quarterly reports from the website.”
The database on the number of troops serving overseas serves as a transparency and accountability tool.
While the war against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria has dramatically slowed down after the U.S.-led coalition and local forces recaptured almost all of the territory once held by the jihadist group, the battle against jihadists in Afghanistan continues to rage.
U.S. military officials have conceded that ISIS remains a threat in Iraq and Syria.
However, Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the director of the Joint Staff, told Pentagon reporters on April 5 that the U.S.-led coalition and its allies are “very close to reaching an end state against the [so-called ISIS] caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.
“As you look to long-term stabilization, we should actually look to partners and allies in the region that are going to be able to do many of those things,” he added.
The U.S. military has intensified its operations against the terrorist groups in Afghanistan, namely the Taliban and ISIS.