Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters Thursday the military has not conducted a battle damage assessment after use of the largest non-nuclear bomb on the Islamic State, because troops still have a job to do.
“Frankly, digging into tunnels to count dead bodies is probably not a good use of our troops’ time when they’re chasing down the enemy that’s still capable,” Mattis said, indicating the troops should focus on the mission ahead.
Preliminary reports from Afghan officials indicate approximately 100 ISIS fighters were killed in the strike, which targeted an extensive cave network used as sanctuary by the terrorist group. The strike hit the headquarters of the terrorist group in Afghanistan, which has proven resilient against U.S. and Afghan Security Forces’s raids. The bomb used is nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” because of its massive 22,000 pound payload.
Mattis also recalled the body count obsessions of the military during the Vietnam, calling the obsession “corrosive.”
“You don’t want to start calculating things, as far as what matters, in the crude terms of battle casualties,” Mattis said, adding: “It’s something that has stayed with us all these years.”
A U.S. special operations soldier was killed by supporting anti-ISIS operations in the same area the MOAB was dropped just days before the bombs use. The U.S. has approximately 9000 troops in Afghanistan, and the Trump administration has gradually scaled up its offensive against ISIS in the region.
“This was the first time that we encountered an extensive obstacle to our progress,” top U.S. general in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson told reporters Apr 14. He continued, “It was the right time to use it tactically against the right target on the battlefield.”
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