The Pentagon appears to have purposefully scrubbed all troop level data for Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan from its Defense Manpower Data Center reports after a promise last summer to provide greater transparency.
While detailed information on the number of American military personnel serving in other countries is readily available, there are nothing but blank spaces for Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan in the relevant DMDC reports, the Military Times first discovered. “We don’t like to broadcast our strength abroad,” a Pentagon spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The sections on Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan are marked with an asterisk, indicating that “any questions concerning personnel strength numbers are deferred to the [Office of the Secretary of Defense] Public Affairs/Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
The DMDC identifies these three countries as areas “with ongoing operations.”
Troop levels have not only been stripped from the most recent quarterly report from December, but those numbers for Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan have also been removed from the previous report from September. Years worth of earlier reports have been removed from the DMDC wesbite altogether.
The Obama administration intentionally obscured troop numbers to meet troop deployment caps known as force management levels. “Secretary Mattis is committed to developing a more transparent accounting of our troops in the field than he inherited,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White told reporters last August.
“This way of doing business is over,” she explained, adding, “We owe the American people as much transparency as possible.” At that time, the Pentagon revealed that the total number of troops in Afghanistan was around 11,000, significantly more than the 8,400 troops reported by the Obama administration.
While the Pentagon has called for greater transparency, President Donald Trump tends to believe in playing things a little closer to the vest when it comes to the military.
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