Sixteen servicemembers, including a general officer, involved in the October 2015 airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, have been punished for their conduct. Forty-two civilians were killed in the attack. A US Central Command investigation released Friday found that “certain personnel” did not comply with the law of armed conflict and rules of engagement, but none of the failures constitutes a war crime. Five of the service members were sent home to the United States, including an officer who was removed from command, and US Special Operations Command boss Army Gen. Joseph Votel directed boards to evaluate the flight certification of three aircrew members, according to a press release. As a result of the incident, Army Gen. John Campbell, who was then the commander of US Forces Afghanistan, ordered additional training on rules of engagement and the commander’s tactical guidance, directed a review of the targeting process, and issued an updated tactical directive and targeting standard operating procedure, among other measures. Votel extended his condolences to the victims, and said the US is “fully committed to learning from this tragedy.” Meinie Nocolai, the president of Doctors Without Borders Belgium, said the organization was still studying the report, which it also received on Friday, but said an “independent and impartial investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission” was still necessary. “Today’s briefing amounts to an admission of an uncontrolled military operation in a densely populated urban area, during which US forces failed to follow the basic laws of war,” said Nicolai. “It is incomprehensible that, under the circumstances described by the US, the attack was not called off.” (Read the full investigation) (Doctors Without Bord?ers release.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.