As scrutiny and debate over the use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) by the American military increased last month, the Air Force reversed a policy of sharing the number of airstrikes launched from RPAs in Afghanistan and quietly scrubbed those statistics from previous releases kept on their website.
Last October, Air Force Central
Command started tallying weapons releases from RPAs, broken down into
monthly updates. At the time, AFCENT spokeswoman Capt. Kim Bender said
the numbers would be put out every month as part of a service effort to
“provide more detailed information on RPA ops in Afghanistan.”
Air Force maintained that policy for the statistics reports for
November, December and January. But the February numbers, released March
7, contained empty space where the box of RPA statistics had previously
The data removal coincided with increased scrutiny on RPA policy caused
by President Barack Obama’s nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA.
Brennan faced opposition in the Senate over the use of RPAs and his
defense of their legality in his role as Obama’s deputy national
security adviser. (Full Story)