The Air Force manipulated data and omitted key stats in order to skew a comparison of civilian casualties and friendly fire deaths caused by close air support aircraft in Afghanistan, according to an analysis released today by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).
The stats, which were recently reported by USA Today, were intended to bolster the Air Force’s campaign to retire the A-10 Warthog in favor of the much costlier and unproven F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
However, POGO’s analysis found that the A-10 is significantly safer than most of the other planes in the comparison. The POGO analysis notes that the Air Force manipulated the data to either exclude or include information that worked against the A-10.
For example, the data looking at civilian casualties excluded an event in 2009 in which a B-1 killed up to 147 civilians and wounded many more. Most importantly, the Air Force did not provide “kinetic” sortie information—those missions in which weapons were employed—that would put these statistics into important context.
“The Air Force cherry picked and doctored the data that it released in an attempt to build a false narrative against the A-10,” said Mandy Smithberger, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at POGO. “The Air Force is resorting to dirty tricks because it can’t make a valid argument against the A-10, proven to be reliable, effective, and a favorite of troops on the ground.”
POGO is calling for Congress to ask the Government Accountability Office to conduct a review of all available data and report to the House and Senate Armed Services committees before the committees mark up the new defense policy bill.
The release of the manipulated data follows comments by an Air Force general who said that any service member providing Congress with information about the A-10 would be committing treason. POGO has called on the Air Force Secretary to remove Maj. Gen. James Post from his command for those comments.
To read POGO’s analysis.