Pentagon Review Recommends No Disciplinary Action After Drone Strike Killed 7 Afghan Kids, Report Says
Partially burnt footwears are pictured amid the debris of the house of Ezmarai Ahmadi that was damaged in a US drone strike in the Kwaja Burga neighbourhood of Kabul on September 18, 2021. - Ezmarai Ahmadi was wrongly identified as an Islamic State militant by US intelligence, who tracked his white Toyota for eight hours on August 29 before targeting the car, killing seven children and three adults.

An independent Pentagon review of a drone strike that killed 10 Afghan civilians, including 7 children, during the final days of the U.S. military’s presence in Afghanistan recommends that no disciplinary action be taken. The review concludes that the incident was not caused by misconduct or negligence.

“The review, done by the Air Force Lt. Gen. Sami Said, found there were breakdowns in communication and in the process of identifying and confirming the target of the bombing,” The Associated Press reported. “But, Said concluded that the mistaken strike happened despite prudent measures to prevent civilian deaths.”

Said reportedly indicated that the drone strike had to be considered during the context of the events that had happened, which included an ISIS-K terror attack that had killed U.S. soldiers and scores of Afghan nationals at the airport in Kabul. He also added that U.S. forces genuinely believed that the car that they ordered the drone on was a terrorist threat.

The report added:

The report, which has been endorsed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, made several recommendations that have been passed on to commanders at U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command. The official said the review recommends that more be done to prevent what military officials call “confirmation bias” — the idea that troops making the strike decision were too quick to conclude that what they were seeing aligned with the intelligence and confirmed their conclusion to bomb what turned out to be the wrong car.

The review recommends that the military have personnel present with a strike team whose job it is to actively question such conclusions. The report says using a so-called “red-team” in such self-defense strikes that are being done quickly might help avoid errors.

The report noted that, while the review did not recommend disciplinary actions, commanders could still decide to take administrative actions based on the report.

Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, commander of United States Central Command, acknowledged the incident back in mid-September, calling it a “tragic mistake.”

“Our investigation now concludes that the strike was a tragic mistake,” McKenzie said. “First, I will stress this was not a rushed strike. The strike cell deliberately followed and observed this vehicle and its occupants for eight hours while crosschecking what they were seeing with all available intelligence to develop a reasonable certainty of the imminent threat that this vehicle posed to our forces.”

The New York Times broke the story about the 10 civilians being killed a week before the military, under the leadership of Democrat President Joe Biden, admitted to the mistake.

The Times reported:

Times reporting has identified the driver as Zemari Ahmadi, a longtime worker for a U.S. aid group. The evidence, including extensive interviews with family members, co-workers and witnesses, suggests that his travels that day actually involved transporting colleagues to and from work. And an analysis of video feeds showed that what the military may have seen was Mr. Ahmadi and a colleague loading canisters of water into his trunk to bring home to his family. While the U.S. military said the drone strike might have killed three civilians, Times reporting shows that it killed 10, including seven children, in a dense residential block.

Ahmadi, 43, worked for Nutrition and Education International (NEI), a U.S.-based organization. The morning of the day that he was killed he left for work in his white Toyota Corolla, at which time the U.S. started surveilling a white sedan because it allegedly had left a location thought to be an ISIS safe house.

Related: U.S. Air Force: 5 People Onboard Flight Out Of Afghanistan ‘Intended To Hijack The Aircraft’

This report has been updated to include additional information. 

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