The Pentagon won’t be handing down any punishments to the military officials who ordered a drone strike that killed seven Afghan children in a “tragic mistake.”
Just days after 13 U.S. service members were killed by a suicide bomber outside of the Kabul airport during the scramble to evacuate Afghanistan in August, military officials surveilled a man making stops around the airport that they believed to be carrying a car bomb.
They ordered a drone strike and blew the vehicle up in the courtyard of the man’s home, but he wasn’t a terrorist, he was an aid worker that had been delivering water near the airport. The blast killed the man, along with two other adults and seven children in the home.
Investigations by U.S. Central Command and Special Operations Command resulted in recommendations for procedural changes and process improvements, but nobody was found to be criminally negligent.
“What we saw here was a breakdown in process and execution and procedural events. Not the result of negligence, not the result of misconduct, not the result of poor leadership,” Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby said.
He reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III did not include any disciplinary action for military service members involved in the drone strike.
“The secretary’s not approving or calling for additional accountability measures,” Kirby commented. “I do not anticipate there being issues of personal accountability to be had with respect to the August 29th airstrike.”
“What we saw here was a breakdown in process and execution and procedural events. Not the result of negligence, not the result of misconduct, not the result of poor leadership,” he continued.
Kirby noted that the Pentagon was not “turning a blind eye” to civilian casualties, but that the “time and space” the strike took place in should be taken into consideration.
“You have to look at this particular strike and not draw broader, wider conclusions about accountability and high standards of conduct based on this one outcome,” Kirby stated.