Mattis: U.S. won’t dig into ‘mother of all bombs’ damage in Afghanistan

The U.S. won’t conduct a damage assessment following the drop of the “mother of all bombs” on Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan a week ago, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday.

The U.S. hasn’t characterized its effectiveness in war through the number of enemy casualties for decades, Mattis said, citing lessons learned from body counts in the Vietnam War.

“We stay away from [bomb damage assessment] in terms of the number of enemy killed,” he told reporters traveling with him in Israel. “It is continuing our same philosophy that we don’t get into that, plus, frankly, digging into tunnels to count dead bodies is probably not a good use of our troops’ time.”

Separately, Afghan authorities have reported 94 ISIS fighters were killed in the blast.

Mattis also refused to say whether he was informed ahead of time that the U.S. would be dropping the massive bomb, the second largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. inventory that had never been used in combat before last Thursday. Instead, Mattis talked about the need to “delegate” authority to field commanders, in whom he expressed full confidence.

“I have no doubt they do, and if they didn’t, I’d remove them,” Mattis said in response to a question about whether his field commanders thought about the strategic after effects of using the bomb.

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