The U.S. military is preparing to punish U.S. service members involved in an airstrike that occurred in October on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, that left 42 civilians dead, Foreign Policy reported Friday. U.S. Army Gen. John Campbell, who commands U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, forwarded a 3,000-page investigation into the airstrike to U.S. Central Command as well as his recommendations for disciplinary action against troop members involved in the airstrike.
It will take roughly two to three weeks to redact the report for potential public release, according to a Defense Department official, however no decision has been made about whether the report will be made public. While U.S. Army Col. Michael Lawhorn, the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, would not comment on the details of the report, he said the legal process would possibly result in “different decisions for different individuals.”
When presenting preliminary findings of the investigation in November, Campbell said those “most closely associated” with the airstrike had been suspended from their duties and that the strike “was a direct result of avoidable human error compounded by process and equipment failures,” Foreign Policy reported. U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, Campbell’s spokesman, also said the investigation revealed that the, “actions of the aircrew and the special operations forces were not appropriate to the threats they faced.”
Doctors Without Borders had called the strike a “war crime," calling for an independent investigation. The Pentagon had previously called the strike a “mistake.” Prior to the strike, there had been clashes between Afghan government forces and the Taliban, and there had been 105 patients from both sides inside the hospital.
“A series of multiple, precise and sustained airstrikes targeted the main hospital building, leaving the rest of the buildings in the MSF compound comparatively untouched,” an initial review of the attack said, using the French acronym for the group. “This specific building of the hospital correlates exactly with the GPS coordinates provided to the parties to the conflict (GPS coordinates were taken directly in front of the main hospital building that was hit in the airstrikes).”