Mat­tis won’t quan­tify deaths from megablast

De­fense sec­re­tary keeps quiet on dam­age from ‘mother of all bombs’

The Dallas Morning News - - WORLD - Robert Burns,

TEL AVIV, Is­rael — The ear-split­ting ex­plo­sion from the “mother of all bombs” has been fol­lowed by cal­cu­lated si­lence about the dam­age it in­flicted.

U.S. De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis said Thurs­day that he didn’t in­tend to dis­cuss dam­age es­ti­mates from last week’s use of the mil­i­tary’s most pow­er­ful non-nu­clear bomb on an Is­lamic State strong­hold in Afghanistan.

The April 13 at­tack on an Is­lamic State tun­nel-and-cave com­plex near the Pak­istani bor­der was the first com­bat use of the bomb, known of­fi­cially as a GBU-43B, or Mas­sive Ord­nance Air Blast bomb. U.S. mil­i­tary of­fi­cials have said the 11-ton bomb neu­tral­ized an Is­lamic State de­fen­sive po­si­tion.

The Afghan gov­ern­ment has es­ti­mated a death toll of more than 90 mil­i­tants. It said no civil­ians were killed.

Re­porters trav­el­ing with Mat­tis in Is­rael asked for his as­sess­ment of the bomb’s dam­age, but he re­fused.

“For many years, we have not been cal­cu­lat­ing the re­sults of war­fare by sim­ply quan­ti­fy­ing the num­ber of en­emy killed,” Mat­tis said.

But the Pen­tagon some­times an­nounces death counts af­ter at­tacks on ex­trem­ists.

On Jan. 20, for ex­am­ple, it said a B-52 bomber strike killed more than 100 mil­i­tants at an al-Qaeda train­ing camp in Syria.

Mat­tis hasn’t pub­licly dis­cussed such num­bers. He said Thurs­day that his view was col­ored by lessons learned from the Viet­nam War, when ex­ag­ger­ated body counts un­der­mined U.S. cred­i­bil­ity.

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