US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered his staff members to develop an “action plan” that would seek to limit civilian casualties during American airstrikes overseas.
Calling it a “moral imperative,” Austin claims this measure is vital for the success of American military operations.
Austin demands an action plan against civilian casualties
Austin asked military and senior civilian officials to develop and send him a plan within 90 days.
According to Austin’s memo, the plan should highlight the specific actions which the Pentagon would take and the resources required to implement the findings of previous studies regarding the problem.
This step of Austin is supposed to come after the vibrant criticism of the human rights watchdogs, including a federally funded think tank RAND Corp. This think tank issued a report of the Pentagon’s failure in airstrikes on Thursday, shortly before Austin’s memo.
The protection of civilians is a strategic & moral imperative. We strive diligently to minimize harm armed conflict visits upon civilian populations, but we can & will improve. To that end, I asked my team to provide a Civilian Harm Mitigation & Response action plan w/in 90 days: pic.twitter.com/BUHHJWZDbm
— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) January 27, 2022
The defense secretary opined saving civilians’ lives in a military conflict reflects American values, which should never be compromised for the sake of national interests.
Although the American Civil Liberties Union endorsed the move, it is questioning if this measure is sufficient enough to get the job done.
The director of ACLU’s national security project, Hina Shamsi, noted the administration needs to address mammoth structural flaws and the violation of international law by the United States since the onslaught of the war on terror.
America declared unprepared for wars in urbanized areas
Meanwhile, RAND Corp. issued a report on Thursday, which mentioned the US army is using flawed methods to assess civilian casualties in airstrikes.
As per the report, the military will not be able to reach the genesis of the civilian killings without making use of the data which is easily accessible to commanders.
Thus, RAND suggested that apart from looking into the numbers of deaths and injured people, it is imperative to see structural damage which these airstrikes make, leaving cities and communities dysfunctional.
Similarly, the think tank stated the Pentagon is not widely distributing the results of its investigations; those who are directly involved in an incident don’t get a chance to see those results, which makes it difficult for them to avoid the same mistakes in the future.
RAND mentioned the potential inability of the Pentagon to distinguish between civilian and military targets in the likely war against Russia or China, which would be fought in more urbanized areas packed with the civilian population.
After a series of New York Times investigations into civilian casualties from US airstrikes, the Secretary of Defense directed the military to begin making changes, and set a timeline to complete a civilian casualty policyhttps://t.co/fv2QwPeza6 w/@EricSchmittNYT @charlie_savage
— Azmat Khan (@AzmatZahra) January 27, 2022
Complying with RAND’s recommendations which suggested the Pentagon create a “center of excellence,” Austin announced to make this in his bid to curb civilian killings in military conflicts.
Recently, the New York Times’ bombshells disclosed a shocking report indicating US airstrikes were merciless. America ignored the deaths of the civilian population in its bombings in the Middle East.
The latest such airstrike came in Afghanistan on August 29, 2021, when ten civilians, including children, were killed, resulting in the international humiliation of the Biden administration.