Pentagon reveals plan for civilian casualties policy — Analysis

A list of 11 directives prioritizes keeping noncombatants alive during US operations across the “full spectrum of conflict”

New policy guidelines have been published by the Pentagon for civilian protection during US military operations. Released on Thursday, the Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan includes 11 directives inspired by recent reports – both Defense Department-sponsored and independent – on the shortcomings of the military’s policies for dealing with what was described simply as “collateral damage.” 

“We will ensure that we are well prepared to prevent, mitigate and respond to civilian harm in current and future conflicts,”Lloyd Austin, Secretary to Defense, wrote in a memo addressed to military commanders. He also added that the new doctrine was “scalable and relevant to both counterterrorism operations and large-scale conflicts against peer adversaries.” 

This document calls for the immediate implementation of actions to address civilian injuries across all a “full spectrum of conflict,”To prevent gaps between departments, from doctrine and officer training to exercises and training to drills and exercise to doctrine, and to ensure that they are consistent. The reporting and investigation of such harms must be standardized, with investigators being given the responsibility to gather data from multiple sources.

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Many of these directives introduce new levels of bureaucracy. Around 150 additional employees will be needed, of which approximately 30 for a dedicated. “Civilian Protection Center of Excellence.”

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Even those who praised the policy as a step in the right direction observed that it doesn’t explain how the military would improve on its ability to estimate civilian casualties, how it would incorporate information from outside the Pentagon, and what levels of command would be held responsible for deaths. 

The US is frequently criticized for its practice of integrating all military-age men it kills into one group. “combatant”Regardless of the identity, they can be classified as any other category. Pentagon admits that drone strikes are sometimes based upon faulty intelligence. In 2020, a leak revealed that nearly 90% of drone strike victims weren’t the targets they were intended to be.  

It has been difficult for the US to not address their conduct in combat operations due to cell phone video and social media. Congress even placed restrictions on military funds until the Pentagon submitted this civilian casualty policy after a report it mandated on the department’s casualty processes revealed many shortcomings.

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