Defense

Air Force finds aircraft’s crew ‘acted appropriately’ despite human remains found in wheel well

The U.S. airlifted 124,000 people out of Kabul over about six weeks as the American-backed Afghan military and government fell to the Taliban.
Senior Airman Taylor Crul/U.S. Air Force via AP
The U.S. airlifted 124,000 people out of Kabul over about six weeks as the American-backed Afghan military and government fell to the Taliban.

The Air Force has cleared the crew of a C-17 aircraft for departing Afghanistan during the U.S.’s withdrawal from the country even though human remains were found in the wheel well of plane.

In an emailed statement issued Monday, Air Force spokesperson Anne Stefanek said an internal investigation found that the crew “acted appropriately and exercised sound judgment” given the deteriorating security environment they were faced with before leaving Afghanistan.  

“The aircrew’s airmanship and quick thinking ensured the safety of the crew and their aircraft,” she added. “After seeking appropriate care and services to help cope with any trauma from this unprecedented experience, the crew returned to flight status.”

The incident occurred as the Taliban rapidly took over Afghanistan in mid-August as the U.S. and allied forces were withdrawing troops from the country.

Thousands of civilians seeking to flee the country breached the perimeters of Hamid Karzai International Airport and surrounded the plane.

At the time, the Air Force said the crew decided to depart given the deteriorating situation. The human remains were discovered when the plane landed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

The Air Force said that its Office of Special Investigations processed and documented the aircraft, as well as the remains found. It released those remains to local police, who declined to further investigate, Stefanek said.

The Staff Judge Advocate offices from Air Mobility Command and U.S. Central Command reviewed the incident and found that the crew complied with “applicable rules of engagement specific to the event and the overall law of armed conflict,” Stefanek said.

Tags afghan war afghan withdrawal Afghanistan Afghanistan conflict Afghanistan withdrawal
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