Erasing U.S. drone data in Afghanistan

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles by the U.S. Air Force for surveillance and strikes in Afghanistan will no longer be recorded in monthly air power summaries. U.S. Central Command said that the data had been removed because it was “disproportionately focused” on the use of unmanned systems in “kinetic attacks” (which account for roughly 3% of all drone sorties).

The move to the “shadows” is perhaps prompted by revelations that the use of drones in Afghanistan soared in 2012. According to one recent UN report:

The UN mission in Afghanistan (Unama) said 506 weapons were released by drones in 2012, compared with 294 the previous year. Five incidents resulted in casualties with 16 civilians killed and three wounded, up from just one incident in 2011.

The US air force central command also recorded an increase, giving the numbers of weapons released by drones as 243 in 2009, 277 in 2010, 294 in 2011 and 494 in 2012.

Whatever the reason, it’s a big blow to transparency.

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