WASHINGTON (AP) – An independent Pentagon review concluded that the US drone strike that killed innocent Kabul civilians and children in the final days of the Afghan war was not caused by misconduct or negligence, and recommends no disciplinary action. This became known to the Associated Press.
The survey, conducted by Air Force Lieutenant General Sami Said, revealed communications disruptions in the process of identifying and confirming the target of the bombing, according to a senior Defense Department official familiar with the report. But Saeed concluded that the mistaken strike occurred despite reasonable measures to prevent civilian deaths, said the official, who, on condition of anonymity, said it had discussed an unpublished report.
As inspector general of the Air Force, Said was not directly involved in operations in Afghanistan and therefore was considered an independent judge in this matter.
Saeed’s review said the drone strike should be viewed in the context of the moment as tense American forces flooded information about threats to troops and civilians at Kabul airport just days after the deadly suicide bombing. Thousands of Afghans have flooded the airport trying to get out of the country after the Taliban seized power.
Said found that better communication between strike decision-makers and other support personnel might have raised more doubts about the explosion, but ultimately may not have prevented it, the official said.
Said was asked to investigate a drone incident on a white Toyota Corolla sedan on August 29, which killed Zemerai Ahmadi and nine family members, including seven children. Ahmadi, 37, was a longtime US aid worker.
The vehicle and its potential threat came just days after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 13 American soldiers and 169 Afghans at the gates of Kabul airport. The United States worked to evacuate thousands of Americans, Afghans and other allies following the collapse of the country’s government.
Saeed concluded that the American forces genuinely believed that the vehicle they were following posed an imminent threat and that they needed to hit it before it approached the airport.
The report, endorsed by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, contains several recommendations that were passed on to commanders of US Central Command and US Special Operations Command. The official said the review recommends doing more to prevent what military officials call “confirmation bias” – the idea that troops who made the decision to strike too quickly concluded that what they were seeing matched the data. intelligence, and confirmed their conclusion to bomb what turned out to be the wrong car.
The review recommends that military personnel be present as part of a strike team whose mission is to actively challenge such findings. The report says that using the so-called “red team” for such quick strikes in self-defense can help avoid mistakes.
Said also recommended that the military improve their procedures to ensure that children and other innocent civilians are not present before striking an urgent strike.
In the days after the strike, Pentagon officials argued that it was carried out correctly, despite growing reports of the deaths of several civilians and children and growing doubts that explosives were in the car. Said’s review concluded that officials made their initial assessments too quickly and insufficiently analyzed.
While Said’s report does not highlight individual deficiencies and discourages discipline, officials said commanders may decide to take administrative action after they read his report.
The United States is working on paying financial reparations to the family and, possibly, with their export from Afghanistan, but nothing has been decided so far.
A second Department of Defense spokesman said Austin asked General Frank Mackenzie, head of US Central Command, and General Richard Clarke, head of US Special Operations Command, to return to him with recommendations for changes to fill the gaps.
Sayid’s review reflects many of Mackenzie’s findings weeks after the investigation.
A Central Command survey found that US forces tracked the vehicle for approximately eight hours and launched the strike “sincerely convinced” – based on the “reasonable certainty” standard – that it posed an imminent threat to American forces at the Kabul airport. It was assumed that there were explosives in the trunk of the car.
The airstrike was the latest in the US war, which ended just days later when the last US troops flew out of Kabul airport, leaving the Taliban in power.