The Pentagon’s leadership has long opposed using body counts as war propaganda, particularly in Afghanistan, fearing that it would echo he failed strategy of Vietnam, and alienating people around the world.
But in recent months, efforts to sell President Trump on the Afghan War have changed that, with officials now eager to get gaudy death tolls out to the public to prove that the US and its allies will “remove all who oppose them at every turn,” and are making progress in killing people.
Yet these same officials have long admitted this isn’t an effective way to communicate how the war is going, and that fixation on body counts comes off as terribly morbid. Whether it is something to sell President Trump on the war is another matter.
President Trump has been seen as increasingly weary of the 17-year-long war, with mounting territory losses convincing him, and many others, that the war is not winnable. That Pentagon officials are gambling on raw death tolls to reverse that pessimism is a testament to how desperate officials are getting for talking points.