US Defense Chief Issues Memo Ordering Probe Into Civilians Killed In US Strikes - Pentagon


US Defense Chief Issues Memo Ordering Probe Into Civilians Killed in US Strikes - Pentagon

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 28th January, 2022) US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a memo directing defense officials to investigate civilian deaths caused by the US military overseas.

"We will revisit the ways in which we assess incidents that may have resulted in civilian harm, acknowledge the harm to civilians that resulted from such incidents, and incorporate lessons learned into the planning and execution of future combat operations and into our tactics, techniques, and procedures," Austin said in a memo sent to senior defense officials on Thursday.

Austin's memo gives defense officials 90 days to investigate and provide recommendations to address the US military's flaws that resulted in civilian deaths abroad.

In December, The New York Times reported that thousands of civilians in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, including children, were killed by US airstrikes conducted with imprecise targeting and "deeply flawed intelligence." The newspaper studied 1,311 documents from a hidden Pentagon archive, concluding that the civilian death toll was much higher than the 1,417 civilian deaths reported by the US military in Iraq and Syria, and the 188 deaths reported in Afghanistan since 2018.

Reports of civilian casualties were often dismissed because surveillance footage was too brief, according to The New York Times. Interviews with surviving residents and current and former US officials revealed that the American military made little effort to identify patterns of failure, and there have been no public assessments which included admission of wrongdoing.

The New York Times also reported that a secret US strike cell called Talon Anvil was responsible for civilian casualties in Syria resulting from air strikes. The unit rushed to destroy "enemies" and sidestepped safeguards, circumventing important rules which helped protect civilians. Some members of Talon Anvil even refused to participate in strikes targeting people who appeared to be innocent bystanders. The majority of the strikes were ordered by relatively low-ranking US Army Delta Force commandos in Talon Anvil, and were labeled as defensive strikes in order to limit oversight.