Monday, March 21, 2016

Accountability for Afghan Hospital Strike

credit: AP
In a rare show of accountability for its war crimes, the Pentagon has decided to discipline US military personnel involved in the air strike that destroyed a charity hospital in Afghanistan {7.10.15, Kunduz War Crime}. However, none of the people involved will face criminal charges. The discipline is administrative in nature, but enough to effectively end an individual's chances of advancement within the military. The strike by an orbiting gunship killed forty-two people [photo]. Medicines Sans FrontiƩre, who operated the hospital in Kunduz would not comment on the absence of courts martial for the personnel most closely involved until the Pentagon makes a public announcement of the disciplinary actions.

The AC-130 gunship, armed with large caliber automatic cannons, was assigned to strike an alleged Taliban headquarters building 450 yards away from the known charity hospital. The crew's sensing devices were not operating correctly, so they erroneously relied on visual descriptions and began firing on the hospital. They apparently ignored warnings from the ground that they were firing on a hospital and not an enemy position. The international charity group said it had provided all parties in the conflict with coordinates for the hospital prior to the strike. The aircraft fired 211 shells during twenty-nine minutes before the attack was stopped.  A general representing the US Central Command, responsible for mid-east operations, told the press the actions taken "were not appropriate" given the threat level the airship faced.