No U.S. military personnel will be punished for the botched August drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children, defense officials said Monday, per NBC News.
A Pentagon review of the incident found that U.S. intelligence had tracked and then struck the wrong vehicle (a white Toyota) in what they believed were the beginnings of an ISIS-K-led attack on the Kabul airport, NBC News writes. The review concluded that the incident "did not violate any laws of war but left decisions on punishment up to the commanders," who recommend "no punishment for the troops involved." Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reportedly agreed with the two senior officials.
"It wasn't an outcome that we came to without careful thought and consideration," said Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby at a Monday news conference. "There was not a strong enough case to be made for personal accountability."
Head of U.S. Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie had previously conceded that the strike "was a mistake," and said he is "fully responsible" for both the attack and its outcome. The Pentagon had also agreed to provide condolence payments to the victims' families, as well as help them relocate to the U.S., "but the payments have yet to be made and the family members are still in Afghanistan, officials said," per NBC News.
"This decision is shocking," Steven Kwon, founder of the California based aid organization that employed Zemari Ahmadi, the driver of the car struck by the American drone, told The New York Times. "How can our military wrongly take the lives of 10 precious Afghan people and hold no one accountable in any way?"