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President Biden‘s administration has been much less aggressive with U.S. military air power in 2021 than former President Donald Trump was last year, with strikes falling 54% as of mid-December.
“The biggest take-home is that Biden has significantly decreased US military action across the globe,” reads a report released Wednesday by Airwars, a not-for-profit organization that tracks military actions and civilian causalities across the world. It added that the drop in strikes has resulted in “far lower numbers of civilians allegedly killed by the US strikes.”
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The report found that there were a total of 439 recorded U.S. strikes during the first year under Biden, a 54% reduction from the 951 recorded under Trump in 2020.
The U.S. military exited Afghanistan in August after nearly 20 years of conflict there, with the last reported U.S. drone strike occurring in the country on Aug. 29 and controversy causing the deaths of ten civilians.
But Afghanistan was not the only country that has seen a reduction in strikes under Biden, with Yemen recording the largest decrease thanks to zero strikes there so far under Biden. There were 18 strikes in Yemen during the last year of Trump’s presidency.
Drops in strikes have also been seen in other U.S. military conflict zones such as Iraq and Syria, where there were 201 strikes during Trump’s last year in office. There have been a total 58 recorded strikes in those two countries under Biden, a 71% reduction. Strikes in Somalia have fallen from 72 under Trump in 2020 to 9 under Biden in 2021, an 88% reduction.
While Biden raised the possibility of the U.S. military being able to maintain an over-the-horizon ability to strike Afghanistan after troops left, U.S. air power has been nonexistent in the country since Aug. 29. But Afghanistan was still the most targeted nation under Biden in 2021, with 372 record strikes representing a 44% decrease from the 660 under Trump the previous year.
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“The skies over Afghanistan are free of US warplanes for the first time in two decades. A whole generation grew up under their contrails, nobody looks at the sky without checking for them,” Graeme Smith of the International Crisis Group told Airwars. “Their absence heralds the start of a new era, even if it’s not yet clear what that new chapter will bring.”