Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wire: US Military Nixes Taliban Casualty Count

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2009 -- Newswire services Monday reported that the U.S. military in Afghanistan has stopped releasing body counts of insurgents believed killed in operations because the tolls distract from the U.S. objective of protecting Afghans, a spokesman said.

Nearly 3,800 insurgents were killed in 2008, based on figures collected by The Associated Press. Some of those numbers came from U.S. military statements; others came from Afghan authorities. So far in 2009, more than 2,310 insurgents have been killed, according to the AP count.

The U.S. military policy on releasing insurgent body counts has changed several times during the eight-year conflict, depending on the commander in charge, AP said.

The latest decision to stop releasing body counts was made in mid-June when Gen. Stanley McChrystal took command of all U.S. and NATO troops in the country, said spokesman Col. Greg Julian.

The militant death toll "distracts from the real objectives and isn't necessary to communicate what we're trying to achieve," Julian said. "We want to separate the people from the insurgency by improving their quality of life and opportunities."

Recently, President Barack Obama said "victory" in Afghanistan country isn't necessarily the United States' goal.

In a factually incorrect comparison, Obama told ABC News, "I'm always worried about using the word 'victory,' because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur."

General MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender from representatives of the the Empire of Japan who signed the 'Japanese Instrument of Surrender' in Tokyo Bay aboard the USS Missouri. Emperor Hirohito was never there.

(Report from newswire sources.)

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