More Hind Sight

US Central Command’s “exhaustive” investigation into the controversial May 4 air strike in Afghanistan’s Farah province has shown that US forces on the ground “took great pains to limit civilian casualties” and “to target those who would attack them,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said during a press conference Monday. But CENTCOM also found that a B-1B bomber, in making its normal “elongated approach” to provide close air support requested by the Afghan and US forces battling the Taliban, “had to break away from positive ID” of the target, deviating from established tactics, techniques, and procedures, said Morrell. He was clear that “there’s no way to determine whether or not that had anything to do with the fact that civilian casualties did occur in this incident.” However, he characterized it as “one of the problems” highlighted in the investigation since the US goes to extraordinary lengths to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. “I would be foolish to stand up here and say that we’ll ultimately eliminate civilian casualties, but we are going to make every effort we can to reduce them,” he said. (For more, read Monday’s Hind Sight entry.) (Full Morrell transcript)