Washington, Mar 10: The Air Force has reversed a policy of sharing the number of airstrikes launched from remotely piloted aircrafts (RPA) in Afghanistan and quietly removed 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”, reports Air Force Times.
The Air Force maintained that policy for the statistics reports for November, December and January. But the February numbers, released Mar h 7, contained empty space where the box of RPA statistics had previously been.
Additionally, monthly reports hosted on the Air Force website have had the RPA data recently removed, the report said.
Defense Department spokesman Cmdr. Bill Speaks said the department was not involved in the decision to remove the statistics.
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.
On Feb. 20, two days before the metadata indicates the scrubbed files were created, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., sent a letter to Brennan saying that he would filibuster the nomination over concerns about using RPA strikes inside the U.S., a threat he carried out for over 12 hours on Mar h 6. (ANI)