This story was written based on data published by the US Air Forces Central Command (Afcent), which it has since changed. Every month, Afcent releases figures on its air war in Afghanistan, including the number of weapons released - this includes bombs dropped, missiles released and rounds fired by jets, drones and gunships. The data published for September originally said 751 weapons had been released over the country but in late October this was quietly changed to 414.
This significant reduction makes the below article inaccurate. It means August, not September, saw the highest number of weapons released this year, with 503 - more than any month since August 2012.
The Bureau approached Afcent for an explanation. A spokesperson said the mistake was because they had incorrectly recorded the number of 20mm rounds fired by USAF F-16 jets. They had counted each round fired as a single weapon released in the monthly summary whereas they should have counted every 100 rounds as one weapon released. It is not immediately clear how this explanation matches the difference in numbers.
More US bombs and missiles were dropped on Afghanistan in September than in any other month for nearly seven years.
The US military uses various metrics to measure the intensity of its air operations, of which weapons released is one. It is not exactly the same as air strikes, as multiple weapons can be released in a single strike.
The Bureau has requested data on the number of airstrikes carried out in September but we are yet to receive it from Resolute Support, the US-led Nato mission in Afghanistan.
American strikes are hitting insurgents and terrorists in Afghanistan with greater intensity. With three months to go until the end of 2017 the US has already carried out more strikes than the last two years combined. Defence Secretary James Mattis has said that under President Trump, international forces have carried out more strikes than in any other year since 2012.
In August, General Nicholson said air support to Afghan forces would be ramping up, following the unveiling of the President Trump's new Afghan strategy.
Photo: F-16 Fighting Falcon at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, June 16, 2017. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Gonsier.