Those old enough to live through the Vietnam War era became accustomed to the daily Pentagon figures on the number of Viet Cong militants who were killed by bombing attacks. A doubter might wonder how planes flying thousands of miles up in the sky knew who their bombs killed when dropped on a village. A senior official for the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence announced his organization had proof that Taliban leader, Hakimullah Mehsud who was supposedly killed in a CIA drone attack in January is alive and resting comfortably. “He is alive. He has some wounds, but basically he is OK.” Even as he spoke, the New America Foundation asserted that between January, 2009 to March 2020 approximately 690 alleged militants were killed in bombing attacks while 181 civilians died. The CIA insists only 20 civilians died.
The war of the numbers is an old one and we learned during the Vietnam war the impossibility of accurately identifying those in a village who are killed as to whether an individual was a guerrilla or an ordinary civilian. The same holds true today.