Mattis won’t quantify deaths from megablast
Defense secretary keeps quiet on damage from ‘mother of all bombs’
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.