Since the evacuation of military forces in Afghanistan, the Biden administration has been very quiet on the subject of evacuation and drone strikes on civilians.
The Department of Defense and State Department promised reviews of their various parts of the operation, the Defense for its role in a drone attack that left 10 civilians, including seven children, dead and the state for its incomplete evacuation of Americans and allies from the country.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin promised a report within 45 days by a three-star official. The officer who got a nod to investigate was Air Force Lieutenant General Sami Said, his service inspector general. His report was announced at a news conference on November 3 by spokesman John Kirby. It was limited to the drone attack on August 29, which led to civilian deaths instead of terrorists, U.S. forces suspected of preparing an attack on Americans.
Said began by noting that much of the report is “classified.” Many details that could be useful for the public to review were omitted from the briefing and may never be known.
He said he believed that “(i) individuals involved in this attack, interviewed during this investigation, really believed at the time that they were targeting an imminent threat to US forces.” No names of the people involved were discussed.
The study made it clear that “you can see that there were opportunities to potentially perform the assessment more carefully, given the time,” Said said.
Shelling of the white Corolla, believed to carry terrorists, was based on an “assessment (which) was primarily driven by the interpretation of intelligence and the correlation of it to observe (d) movement through an eight-hour window in which the vehicle was tracked. all the way through. the day… “
Said “found no violation of the law, including the law of war. It found execution errors, confirmed by confirmation – or combined with confirmation bias and communication crashes …”
He made three recommendations in the report. All are unclear and are likely to rely on classified information that he did not share.
The first was “implementing procedures to reduce the risk of confirmation bias.”
Second was “improving situational awareness by sharing information that is very thoroughly shared within the framework of the strike cell and in a bubble within that strike cell.”
The third recommendation, based on the “assessment of civilians, specifically children in the area (that was) inaccurate” is a “review of how that assessment is performed, again, during rapid strikes, where you train something for a time – limited mode . “
Said’s findings, in addition to saying he did not see evidence of criminal behavior, are ultimately left to the chain of command for any personnel action.
“The fact that I sent this to the chain of command, that’s where it belongs,” he said, emphasizing that commanders “can decredential people. They can retrain people. They can fire people.”
An interesting point that Said noted was that “in the retrograde window over four months, this was the only strike carried out in self-defense. In fact, if you go back a year, I’m almost certain of that. In the last year in Afghanistan , we did not make any self-defense attacks … “
Given that this strike was a few days after the attack at Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul, which resulted in 13 dead service members, it is at least worthwhile to elaborate on why this situation was so different from all the others that it required a “self-defense” “attacks, especially since, after all, no terrorists were involved.
One issue that was not addressed or addressed was whether there was pressure from higher headquarters to attack faster than usual given the recent attack at the airport.
This conclusion is probably the last the public will hear about the DoD case.
In short, the public knows almost no more about the drone attack than the average citizen could have imagined.
Silence so far from the State Department.
Diana Shaw, the department’s inspector general, will carry out “several” inspections commissioned by Secretary Antony Blinken. Topics will include “the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program; Afghans treated for refugee reception in the United States; resettlement of Afghan refugees and visa recipients; and the Embassy in Kabul’s emergency planning and execution,” including the evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghan nationals. “
Including various topics can confuse the importance of the evacuation and will give media room to distract from the evacuation.
Expect calls for more process reviews and for the career staff to address staff errors – none of them will touch the secretary’s office.
James Hutton is a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and is a retired colonel in the U.S. Army.