Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Pentagon’s new civilian casualty plan won’t include reopening past cases

Posted by M. C. on October 21, 2022

“If you don’t reopen those cases, you don’t really understand what’s gone wrong,” said Emily Tripp, director of U.K.-based airstrike monitoring group Airwars. “Can you really know if you’re getting to learn your lessons if you don’t know why the thing has gone wrong in the first place?”

Why do I think the new plan consists of better ways not to get caught.


The Pentagon has decided that an overhaul aimed at reducing risks to civilian casualties will not include reinvestigating past incidents, even those that were erroneously dismissed, according to a department spokesperson.

The plan also will not involve reopening past cases in which civilian casualties were confirmed but the department did not make amends to the victims’ families, Lt. Col. Cesar Santiago-Santini said. The agency will, however, continue its policy of reviewing cases if new evidence emerges, he added.

The Pentagon’s new action plan, released in August, “is a forward-looking document that focuses on how DoD will further refine our capabilities and processes to better mitigate and respond to civilian harm, and provisions relating to reevaluation of past incidents of civilian harm are therefore outside the scope of this plan,” Santiago-Santini said in a statement.

In the near term, in accordance with the new action plan, DoD “will further expand the sources of information used in assessments and investigations so that DoD has access to more information and is more capable of assessing and investigating the results of military operations,” he said.

Outside groups focused on preventing civilian casualties said they were disappointed with the decision. The groups have long urged the Pentagon to provide better accounting of the incidents, many of which they say were improperly adjudicated or summarily dismissed.

The groups have pressed DoD to reopen previous cases as part of the overhaul, in part to learn lessons from past mistakes.

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