Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) shares regular updates about the work of our global programs. Our US program, helmed by US Program Director, Daniel R. Mahanty, works with US institutions to protect civilians trapped in conflict around the world. This weekly overview of the US Program is authored by CIVIC consultant, Lyndsey Martin.

US MILITARY AND COALITION OPERATIONS

AFGHANISTAN

More than a year after pitching a plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan to President Trump, Erik Prince has returned to Kabul to meet with political figures within and outside of President Ghani’s administration. In a statement on Thursday, Ghani that said “under no circumstances” will the counterterrorism fight “become a private, for-profit business.” 

Under Prince’s plan, 6,000 private contractors would provide “skeletal structure support” and training to Afghan forces, supported by aircraft flown by joint teams of Afghans and contractors. Prince put the cost at about $5 billion a year and said that within six months, “you would have a very different situation on the ground.”  

Mariam Amini, of Human Rights Watch, said privatizing the fighting could “exacerbate abuses and undermine what fragile justice systems exist” as private contractors don’t report directly to the military, and while they can be prosecuted for crimes in US courts, they rarely are. 

The US military has resumed publishing detailed information on its airstrikes in Afghanistan after more than a year of withholding the information. The US-led NATO mission said it carried out 465 strikes in September 2018.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

STATISTICS

Bureau of Investigative Journalism (Total Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen)

Civilians Killed: 751 – 1,597 

Children Killed: 252 – 359 

Total Killed: 8,059 – 11,482 

Minimum Confirmed Strikes: 4,990

Airwars (Total Iraq and Syria)

Minimum Civilians Killed: 6,575 

Coalition Strikes: 30,156 

Bombs & Missiles Dropped: 108, 462

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • October 2NYU Wagner – Navigating the Gulf: How Economic Trends Are Driving Politics and US Counterterrorism Efforts in the Arabian Peninsula 
  • October 4: US Institute of Peace – Preserving the Past to Strengthen Afghanistan’s Future 
  • October 9NYU Wagner – State of Rebellion: Violence and Intervention in the Central African Republic 
  • October 11Brookings Institution – Political Change, Military Transformation, and the Path Forward for the Democratic Republic of Congo 
  • October 18US Institute of Peace – Breaking Rules to Build Peace

OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE 

New research by the International Committee of the Red Cross shows that urban fighting accounted for eight times more conflict-related civilian deaths in four governorates across Iraq and Syria than fighting in other areas. The ICRC documented at least 6,485 civilian casualties between March 2017 and July 2018 in these four governorates.  

Coalition forces carried out 64 strikes in Iraq and Syria between September 17 and 23. 

MOST RECENT OIR CIVCAS REPORT (September 27): In the month of August, CJTF-OIR carried over 219 open reports from previous months and received 151 new reports. The assessment of 60 civilian casualty reports has been completed. Out of the 60 completed casualty reports, eight of the reports were determined to be credible and resulted in 53 unintentional civilian deaths. Two of the reports were determined to be duplicate reports that had previously reported and the remaining 50 reports were assessed to be non-credible. A total of 310 reports are still open. The Coalition conducted a total of 30,008 strikes between August 2014 and end of August 2018. During this period, based on information available, CJTF-OIR assesses at least 1114 civilians have been unintentionally killed by Coalition strikes since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve.

SECURITY ASSISTANCE AND ARMS SALES

The State Department approved $69.7 billion in foreign military sales requests for FY 2018, falling short of last year’s figure of $75.9 billion. The potential sales are spread over seventy individual notifications, led by Europe then the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions. 

This week, State approved the sale of five Armed Bell 507GX helicopters to Iraq, worth an estimated $82.5 million, and three King Air 350ER aircraft to Canada for an estimated cost of $300 million. 

The United States has no plans to curtail military support to French-led operations against al Qaeda- and Islamic State-linked militants in Mali, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday during a trip to Brussels. The US will continue providing intelligence and logistics support to French troops even as the Pentagon reevaluates the US military posture in Africa to focus on Russia and China.

WHAT WE’RE READING

Cori Crider writes in the New Republic how the new Democrats can end the US drone wars: “Democrats bequeathed us the drone wars. It would only be fitting for Democrats to stop them.” 

Nick McDonell details the US military’s targeting process for airstrikes in this Longreads article: “I’m talkin’ particularly about civilians. I’m saying, is there a moment when it’s okay, when it’s right, to be willing to kill a civilian, to do what you need to do?” 

This investigation by the Guardian shows how fiercely the fighting continues in Afghanistan, 17 years into the war.

Image courtesy of U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Peter Reft
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