UPDATED 7:29 AM PT – Wednesday, December 15, 2021
The Biden administration is hoping to erase its mistakes made in the final days of its unsuccessful withdraw from Afghanistan. It was announced that Joe Biden’s Pentagon will not be punishing any troops who were involved in the deadly airstrike against a family of Afghan civilians.
On Monday, U.S. Department of Defense’s Press Secretary John Kirby admitted no one will be punished for the late August incident that killed 10 civilians, including seven children. Kirby claimed after several internal and independent reviews, top DOD officials concluded none of the troops involved were found criminally negligent, nor found to have violated laws of war. He suggested those involved will not be held accountable.
In the final days of the crisis in Afghanistan, the Pentagon ordered an airstrike on a vehicle near Kabul’s airport after claiming it carried weapons that were to be used against U.S. troops. For nearly three-weeks, the DOD claimed the airstrike was a success and touted their efforts to stop an imminent attack.
However, reports revealed that the vehicle belonged to 37-year-old Zemari Ahmadi who was working with a U.S.-based humanitarian organization. The nine other victims, including those seven children, were part of Ahmadi’s extended family. After the reports surfaced, top military commanders finally admitted they made a mistake.
“I am now convinced that as many as 10 civilians, including up to seven children, were tragically killed in that strike,” stated CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie. “Moreover, we now access that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or were a direct threat to U.S. forces. I offer my profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed.”
Biden’s DOD continued to try to justify the strike by using the excuse that officials were overwhelmed by a suicide bombing that killed 170 potential evacuees and 13 American service members just days prior.
Republican critics, however, did not buy their claims. Instead, they are hounding the administration over its apparent incompetence in carrying out an effective withdrawal. GOP lawmakers pointed to intelligence reports predicting a swift collapse of the Afghan government, an over-reliance on U.S. military training and equipment as well as low moral within the Afghan military.
Regarding the airstrike, Republican Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) sounded off on the military industrial complex’s propensity to use force without adequately assessing who they are targeting.
“You’d think you’d kinda know before you off somebody with a Predator drone, whether he’s an aide worker or he’s ISIS-K,” asserted the Kentucky lawmaker. “You see the thing is…this has been going on for administration after administration. The Obama administration droned hundred and hundreds of people. And the thing is there is blowback…there are these beautiful children who were killed in the attack.”
In the meantime, Kirby stressed DOD Secretary Lloyd Austin is committed to changing how the Pentagon carries out airstrikes. However, Austin has failed to reveal this framework with the public.
Critics have further lamented the Pentagon’s stance by claiming when the DOD absolves itself of accountability, it sends a dangerous and misleading message that its actions were somehow justified.