By: Dan Mahanty and Rita Siemion
Earlier today, Missy Ryan at the Washington Post reported on a major examination of civilian deaths in military operations underway at the Pentagon, including an internal study on civilian casualties that was completed in April but not previously released or even known to the public. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered the internal review in late 2017 at the behest of former Secretary of Defense James Mattis following several troubling media reports regarding a rise in U.S.-caused civilian casualties and serious failings of existing investigation and response mechanisms.
The internal review, however, was quite narrow in scope and, as a result, does not answer some of the biggest questions about the principal causes of civilian casualties–or their reported increase under this administration. Nor does the report resolve the broad disparity between the Pentagon’s publicly reported civilian casualties’ figures and the estimates of NGOs like Airwars that systematically track casualty reports.