Pentagon chief orders review of deadly drone strike in Afghanistan
A Department of Defense spokesman announced on Monday that the drone strike that killed 10 civilians in the final days of evacuations from Afghanistan will undergo further review.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has tasked Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall with overseeing the investigation, which will be conducted by Lt. Gen. Sam Said, the Air Force inspector general.
“Part of that review will be to examine the investigation itself, the thoroughness of the investigation, to study the degree to which any policies, procedures or targeting mechanisms may need to be altered going forward, if any, and of course to then take a look at what levels of accountability might be appropriate and if so at what level,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a briefing.
On Friday, the Pentagon confirmed that it had mistaken a civilian vehicle for an ISIS-K threat on Aug. 29.
“I am now convinced that as many as 10 civilians, including up to seven children, were tragically killed in that strike,” U.S. Central Command head Gen. Frank McKenzie said, stating that it was unlikely that the vehicle or its occupants, seven of whom were children, were associated with ISIS-K.
“Our investigation now concludes that the strike was a tragic mistake,” he said.
The Department of Defense will be looking into making payments to the families of the people killed in the drone strike. These payments would be considered a moral obligation and not a legal requirement.
However, some family members of those killed have said that an apology is not enough. Apart from financial compensation, some have also requested relocation to the U.S. or another country that has been deemed safe. Kirby addressed these concerns on Monday, saying officials would be looking into these requests.
“We know that Central Command is working through how best to reach out to them for the issue of payments, but also to determine the validity of this interest in moving out,” said Kirby, though he added it was too early to disclose any decisions.
“I believe the secretary of Defense would absolutely support, if the family wanted to leave Afghanistan and come to the United States. I believe he would support that,” Kirby added. “[That is] assuming that … all the proper legal hoops were worked through. I don’t want to get ahead of a process or decision that hasn’t been made yet, but I think he would absolutely consider that.”
The drone strike occurred shortly after a suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans at a Kabul airport gate, which officials blamed on ISIS-K.
Rebecca Kheel contributed to this report, which was updated at 10:55 a.m.