Tuesday, September 8, 2009

OEF Update, Sept. 8, 2009: NATO Confirms Civilian Airstrike Casualties, Appoints Investigation Board

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 8, 2009 -- NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal has appointed Maj. Gen. C.S. Sullivan to lead the Joint Investigation Board conducting a formal investigation into the Sept. 3 airstrike in Kunduz.

Sullivan is a Canadian officer who serves as the ISAF Air Component Element Director and the Deputy Director of Joint Operations. The board also will include a U.S. Air Force officer, a German officer, and a legal advisor. The board will coordinate with the Afghan investigation team, formed by Afghanistan President Karzai.

An initial assessment conducted at the scene of the incident by McChrystal and several of his senior leadership team concluded that civilians had been killed or injured in the strike. McChrystal subsequently ordered the appointment of a Joint Investigation Board to conduct a thorough, formal review of the incident.

The investigation is examining the series of events that began on Sept. 3, when two fuel trucks were reported stolen by insurgents. ISAF later located the trucks on the banks of the Kunduz River. Believing civilians were not in the area, the local ISAF commander authorized an airstrike, which destroyed the two fuel trucks. Subsequent review has led ISAF to believe that along with insurgents, civilians also were killed and injured in the strike.

The Joint Investigation Board, which is expected to take several weeks to complete its work, has been directed to research and document all facts and circumstances surrounding the strike and any potential civilian casualties. The board’s result will be shared with Afghanistan and German authorities to inform their follow-on actions as appropriate.

(Report from an International Security Assistance Force news release.)

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