U.S. troops involved in the Aug. 29 airstrike of Afghanistan resulting in civilian casualties will not be facing disciplinary action, according to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby in a Dec. 13 press briefing.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “approved the recommendations” regarding “procedural changes” made by both U.S. Special Operations Command leader Gen. Richard Clarke and U.S. Central Command head Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, according to Kirby.
The officials have concluded that there will be no punishment for military service members involved in the airstrike.
An independent Pentagon review conducted by Air Force Lt. Gen. Sami Said last month found breakdowns in communication during the process of locating and confirming the target of the bombing.
“I found that given the information they had and the analysis that they did—I understand they reached the wrong conclusion, but … was it reasonable to conclude what they concluded based on what they had? It was not unreasonable. It just turned out to be incorrect,” Said said, according to statements obtained by The Associated Press.
Given that U.S. forces were flooded by information about threats to troops and civilians only days after a deadly suicide bombing at the Kabul airport, Said pointed out that troops genuinely believed that the white Toyota Corolla sedan targeted was “an imminent threat to U.S. forces,” and that troops were unaware of children in proximity to the strike zone.
The U.S. drone strike blew up a vehicle carrying “multiple suicide bombers” from the ISIS-K terrorist group on Aug. 29, causing at least 10 civilian casualties including 7 children, according to officials.
“US military forces conducted a self-defense unmanned over-the-horizon airstrike today on a vehicle in Kabul, eliminating an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamad Karzai International airport,” Capt. Bill Urban, a U.S. Central Command spokesperson, told reporters in a statement.
In a statement to The Hill, Pentagon Secretary stated that the department takes seriously “our obligation to avoid civilian harm in the execution of our operations, and as the secretary made clear, we will not be afraid to make necessary changes to our processes and procedures to that end.”
The Aug. 29 airstrike came in retaliation to a bombing at the Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. military members and numerous other civilians a week prior. ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the blast.