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Ever Wonder What 90 Years of US Bombing Looks Like?

Written by on Monday, August 6th, 2012

Because of our long military history, America has a reputation of sticking its fingers in a lot of different pies. It seems like hardly a year can go by without the US military getting involved in international affairs, either by training locals, providing a stabilizing military presence, or by dropping bombs.

How many bombs have we dropped, exactly? It’s easy to lose track. I can’t even tell you how many times we’ve launched missiles or dropped bombs this year, not to mention all of the bombs that we’ve dropped throughout the entire Iraq War.

Well, the American public may have a hard time keeping track of all the bombs that the US has dropped over the year, but one US Air Force officer hasn’t forgotten any of them. Lt. Col. Jenns Robertson, a former operations director for a space launch squadron at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, has been meticulously building a database of US bombs.

THOR, or the Theater History of Operations Reports, has been a project of absolute mammoth proportions. It combines data from thousands of paper documents, magnetic tape records, old film records, punch cards, digital databases, and other information mediums that the US government has used over the past 90 years. Robertson’s mission is to catalog every single bomb that we’ve ever dropped, from the recent bombings during the Iraq War to hundreds of bombs dropped over Europe during World War I and World War II.

Robertson didn’t have a team of dedicated experts to help him with the task, and he didn’t have a near-endless government budget, either — this is something that Robertson has been working on for the past six years during his free time. We’ve heard of some weird hobbies, but this one takes the cake.

Cataloging bombs isn’t how I’d like to spend my weekend, but the US government is excited cheap antibiotics online about Robertson’s hobby. The Department of Defense and other government agencies are already using the information in THOR, and analysts suspect that the database will provide a better picture of warfare. Robertson said that THOR allows us to “look at (a battle) from multiple perspectives and see how air and land, and air and sea, worked together at the time.”

For the State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, which helps foreign countries safely remove and disable live mines and other unexploded ordinances, THOR is absolutely invaluable. Mar. Gen. Walter Givhan, the deputy assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, said that the information in THOR “is critical to our efforts.”

If the THOR database is so important, it makes you wonder why the government never funded it earlier. Now that THOR’s been brought beneath the public gaze and the DoD has discovered how incredibly useful it is, there’s a good chance that Robertson will get some help from Uncle Sam as he continues to develop THOR.

Completing the THOR database will inevitably be a lifelong mission. Robertson’s still trying to get WWI, WWII, Vietnam, and Korean War records so that he can flesh out his database. Even then, Robertson has no way of knowing how close he is to completing the database because nobody is certain of how many bombs the US has dropped.

Perhaps one of the most significant effects of THOR is that it will allow the people of the world to gain a better perspective of the dangers of war. Hearing about a bombing on the news is one thing, but seeing thousands of data points on a map of the Earth is a completely different story. I don’t know about you, but looking at that thick cloud of data points makes me wonder whether or not all of those bombs were really worth it.

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