US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urged the US military to intensify its efforts to prevent civilian casualties in air strikes. This call comes after the Americans committed a number of fatal mistakes that damaged the reputation of the army.
“We can, and will, do more to protect civilians,” Austin wrote in the letter. The Pentagon must come up with a plan to deal with the problem within three months from the Secretary of Defense. “Protecting innocent civilians in the conduct of our operations remains vital to the eventual success of operations,” Austin said, also emphasizing a “moral imperative.” Within six months, there should be new instructions for drone operators and their chain of command.
He also decided to establish a Center of Excellence to develop better tools to mitigate risks to civilians, and to collect all known incidents from various US military commands around the world into a single learning database.
These measures were recommended in a report by the Rand Corporation, a US think-tank. The report was submitted to the Pentagon in February 2021, but was not made public until Thursday. When planning attacks, defense will focus on the enemy in a way that “neglects the broader civilian picture.” Researchers say this could lead to civilian deaths.
Another conclusion is that many military leaders are not sharing lessons learned after critical mistakes. It also appears that the Ministry of Defense does not consistently compensate victims’ families for the suffering they caused.
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