After months of review, the Pentagon has released a quarterly report of the number of troops serving overseas — minus any data it previously reported about the number of service members deployed in combat.
The Defense Manpower Data Center for years has reported quarterly the number of active duty, National Guard and Reserve forces assigned to each state and stationed at each country overseas.
When asked last week why the quarterly December report still had not posted, a defense official said “DMDC is currently updating their policy for these reports. The information should be available soon, and retroactive numbers will be available.”
The Pentagon typically reports each quarter’s data three months after the quarter ends.
The December report, however, just had blank spaces where Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan figures used to be.
An asterisk at the bottom said, “with ongoing operations, any questions concerning DoD personnel strength numbers are deferred to OSD Public Affairs/Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
They also stripped Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan numbers from the previously released September report, with the same disclaimer.
Earlier downloads of the report show how it used to look:
The Defense Department has also now scrubbed years worth of the previous quarterly reports from the website.
Last year, the databases were a way to provide some transparency on the number of forces involved in the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, when the Pentagon would not provide them.
The Pentagon will still only say there are approximately 5,200 forces in Iraq, a number that has not changed in more than a year.
Tara Copp is a Pentagon correspondent for the Associated Press. She was previously Pentagon bureau chief for Sightline Media Group.