In 2016 alone, U.S. combat aircraft conducted at least 456 airstrikes in Afghanistan that were not recorded as part of an open-source database maintained by the U.S. Air Force, information relied on by Congress, American allies, military analysts, academic researchers, the media and independent watchdog groups to assess each war's expense, manpower requirements and human toll. Those airstrikes were carried out by attack helicopters and armed drones operated by the U.S. Army, metrics quietly excluded from otherwise comprehensive monthly summaries, published online for years, detailing American military activity in all three theaters.
Most alarming is the prospect this data has been incomplete since the war on terrorism began in October 2001. If that is the case, it would fundamentally undermine confidence in much of what the Pentagon has disclosed about its prosecution of these wars, prompt critics to call into question whether the military sought to mislead the American public, and cast doubt on the competency with which other vital data collection is being performed and publicized. Those other key metrics include American combat casualties, taxpayer expense and the military’s overall progress in degrading enemy capabilities...
U.S. Central Command, which oversees military activity in all three war zones, indicated it is unable to determine how far back the Army’s numbers have been excluded from these airpower summaries. Officials there would not address several detailed questions submitted by Military Times, and they were unable to provide a full listing of annual airstrikes conducted by each of the Defense Department's four military services.Now why would the DOD want to publish false information? Well, it helps in the effort to achieve "plausible deniability" --by denying a US mission took place when the US military commits a potential war crime, like deliberately bombing hospitals or bombing elite counter narcotics forces in Afghanistan, which the USG initially denied. In fact, an unnamed Army official quoted in the article said he did not consider Apache helicopter attacks airstrikes! While according to Boeing, its manufacturer, “The Apache is the world's best armed, integrated and connected attack helicopter in production and in operational use today. It’s a flying weapons system that is fully integrated. It has options to have missiles, rockets or guns depending on what your enemy is."
If you have no report of thousands of air attacks, instead of bombing ISIS, you can bomb anti-ISIS targets and likely get away with it. There could be so many reasons to hide US military missions.
UPDATE: From the Sept 7, 2015 Wall Street Journal, we learn that a US "friendly fire" airstrike in southern Afghanistan on Sept 6 "hit a 30 member elite counternarcotics police unit as they were on a mission..." [to stop opium trafficking. We stopped them all right.]
At least 11 died in "one of the deadliest friendly fire incidents in the country in recent years." Here is the Reuters story. The US denied the strike in Helmand province, but admitted to airstrikes in the adjacent province of Kandahar. According to the Guardian, "The US is the only member of the NATO coalition known to have carried out bombing raids in Afghanistan this year." The AP/WaPo on 9/8/15 reported that, "Brigadier General Shoffner [Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications in Afghanistan] said 'based on information we received [on 9/8], we feel it is prudent to investigate the airstrike our forces conducted in Kandahar.'"Deliberately falsifying the number of US airstrikes in Afghanistan makes it impossible to know what was spent, how many Afghanis were killed, and what actually is being "accomplished" in Afghanistan.
It makes it harder than ever to know why we are in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, what our targets truly are, and what has been done in our name. As I discussed here, the US presence in Afghanistan can only be explained as a grab for at least a trillion dollars' worth of oil and minerals, a pipeline, and a renewable resource called heroin.