Why 30? Airstrikes in Afghanistan keep killing exactly 30 people
They call this The Magic Numbers. One of the bloggers documented no less than 12 occasions in which news reports, relying on field commanders' estimates, noted that exactly 30 suspected Taliban were killed in airstrikes and, occasionally, artillery attacks.
This is believed to be Pentagon policy from the Rumsfeld days on acceptable kill rates. Bloggers say thirty casualties seem like enough to justify a military attack, or few enough to not attract too much attention per incident.
Gregg Carlstrom, a D.C. based blogger and journalist, told RT that a lot of these reports are dealing with air strikes and artillery strikes, where the troops are fighting at a distance, so they don’t really have on-the-ground intelligence to know exactly how many people are being killed.
“Back in 2007,” Carlstrom says, “there were reports about US policy that said that if more than 30 civilians are to be killed in a military operation, sort of expected collateral damage, that the Pentagon would have to sign off on the operation.”