On the campaign trail in 2015 and ’16, then-candidate Donald Trump routinely shied away from offering specifics on how he would utilize the military to combat the threat posed by radical Islamist terrorist groups in the Middle East, if he were to become president.
However, on at least one particular occasion, Trump had famously said he would “bomb the s*** out of them” as a means to wear down and bring about the destruction of our nation’s terrorist enemies.
It didn’t take long for the new Trump administration to set about bombing the Islamic State group into submission in the parts of Iraq and Syria the terrorists occupied, and while that barbaric organization has not yet been completely defeated, it has been more than decimated and remains a mere shell of its former self.
Another enemy, however, has proven to be a slightly tougher nut to crack … the Taliban in Afghanistan. That certainly isn’t for lack of trying, however, and it would appear that Trump’s strategy to “bomb the s*** out of them” has also been put into practice this year and is seeing some success in the war-torn central Asian nation.
Task & Purpose reported on Saturday that the U.S. military has dropped more munitions on targets in Afghanistan so far this year than in any previous entire year since monthly bomb usage reports began to be compiled by the U.S. Air Force in 2006.
Citing raw data released by the U.S. Air Forces Central Command — which has compiled numbers through the end of October 2018 — Task & Purpose reported that U.S. forces had dropped no less than 5,982 bombs in Afghanistan thus far this year.
That is a 37 percent increase over the 4,361 bombs that were dropped on targets in Afghanistan throughout the whole of 2017. Bear in mind that the numbers for the months of November and December have yet to be tallied, so the grand total for 2018 will likely be substantially higher.
In other words, 2018 is breaking records and it’s not over yet.
Meanwhile, the number of combat mission sorties has also increased this year over last year by about 43 percent so far, with 6,584 sorties flown in the first 10 months of 2018 compared to 4,603 sorties in all of 2017. Again, that number will inevitably rise as the sorties flown in the final two months will eventually be factored into the equation.
Interestingly, however, though more sorties were flown this year than last year, fewer actually dropped the munitions they were carrying — 783 so far in 2018 as compared to 1,248 in all of 2017 — which suggests that the military has become more selective in deciding which targets to actually hit.
Stars & Stripes reported that the numbers compiled by Air Force Central Command included both bomb and missile strikes launched from manned aircraft, artillery fire from C-130 gunships and strafing runs on ground targets with 20mm cannons and other large weapon systems.
Stars & Stripes further reported that the goal of the increased bombing campaign was to break the will to keep fighting of the Taliban and compel them to join others at the negotiating table to find a way to bring the bloody 17-year-old war to an end.
To that end, the bombing campaign has been largely focused on “terrain denial” against the Taliban — such as strikes against fortified positions and transportation routes typically used by fighters — as well as targeted strikes against gathered Taliban fighters and leaders as well as the infrastructure associated with them, such as the drug labs they use to process abundant opium into heroin for the illicit international drug trade.
Whether the stepped-up bombing campaign will ultimately prove successful at bringing the Taliban to the table for a negotiated peace deal remains to be seen. However, one measure of success has already been noted as a result of the bombing campaign, namely that the Taliban has largely been confined to more rural areas and has been unable establish itself in or near major urban population centers.
Furthermore, the increased bombing campaign has also proved successful in that it has disrupted the Taliban’s leadership and financial infrastructure far better — and in a much safer manner, at least for U.S. forces — than could have been done using infantry or even special operations units in firefights and skirmishes.
Though very few of us want to cede any sort of “victory” to the Taliban by allowing them to remain a viable force in the country and part of a peace process, completely uprooting them has proven to be a near impossibility, and more and more Americans have come to realize it is time to conclude the costly war, whether the Taliban has been fully defeated or not.
Hopefully this dramatically increased campaign by the U.S. military to routinely “bomb the s*** out of them” will succeed in at least denying the Taliban an upper hand in peace negotiations and compel them to accept whatever offers they receive in order to stop the perpetual falling of highly explosive munitions on them whenever they raise their heads.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.