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USAF inspector general recommends airstrike procedure changes

There was “no violation of law” associated with a 29 August US military airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed 10 civilians; however, the “interpretation” of the intelligence was flawed, according to the US Air Force's (USAF's) Inspector General Lieutenant General Sami Said.

During the US military's waning days inside the Central Asian country, an over-the-horizon strike cell based in Qatar was charged with disrupting terrorist plots designed to upend the non-combatant evacuation operation. This strike cell wrongly identified Zamarai Ahmadi, an aid worker, as a potential threat and followed him as he drove his car throughout Kabul on the late-August date. General Chris Donahue, the commanding general of 82nd Airborne Division and the ground force commander at Hamid Karzai International Airport, approved the decision to launch a Hellfire missile at Zamarai Ahmadi's vehicle and it killed him along with two other men and seven children, according to the three-star general charged with investigating the chain of events.

“We have no reason to question the intelligence but what likely broke down is the … correlation of that intelligence to a specific house, the inference that what the intelligence is talking about is that house, and that car. There's an art to that and that's where the disconnect and correlation broke down,” Lt Gen Said told reporters at the Pentagon on 3 November.

Lt Gen Said has provided senior Pentagon leaders with three overarching recommendations related to ‘time-constrained' scenarios in urban terrain. These findings are: the implementation of procedures to mitigate risks of confirmation bias; enhancing sharing of overall mission situational awareness during execution; and a review of pre-strike procedures used to assess presence of civilians.

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