Democrats urge responsibility for civilians harmed by US military operations

Congressional Democrats are pushing for greater responsibility for civilians killed and injured in US military operations abroad.

Democrats in both houses on Thursday introduced two bills that would revise the Pentagon’s reporting and disclosure requirements and move investigations into civilian harm beyond the units responsible for the strike.

“We cannot continue to accept the death of innocent civilians as an unavoidable cost of war – the Department of Defense has a moral responsibility to prevent civilian damage from its military operations and to investigate whether civilians are injured,” said Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Massachusetts and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Ms. Warren is leading Senate pressure on the Civilians in Military Operations Act and the Department of Defense’s Civilian Harm Transparency Act in the Senate, along with Sens. Jeff Merkley, Oregon Democrat and Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont.

The two bills were also introduced in the House by Democratic Reps Ro Khanna and Sara Jacobs of California, Jason Crow of Colorado and Tom Malinowski of New Jersey.

“The bicameral legislation that my colleagues and I are introducing is based on reforms that [Defense Secretary Lloyd] Austin has already asked DoD to consider, will introduce significant guardrails and transparency requirements, and establish a much-needed focal point in government to investigate, report and prevent civilian harm,” said Ms. Warren.

The two bills would improve coordination between US military forces around the world and the State Department to respond to incidents that harm civilians, and take steps to ensure the integrity of investigations into civilian casualties.

The legislation also changes reporting requirements for civilian casualties resulting from military operations, including requirements for the Pentagon to prepare an unclassified report detailing the civilians killed since the US launched the global war against terror groups in 2001. .

Mrs. Warren and Rep. Khanna introduced similar legislation in 2020.

Since then, pressure on Pentagon accountability has increased in the wake of high-profile attacks that killed civilians, including the August 29, 2021 US drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, which killed ten civilians amid the chaotic US withdrawal. troops from the country.

U.S. military airstrikes have killed up to 48,000 civilians, according to a 2021 report by Airwars, an independent monitoring group.

According to the group, airstrikes under President Biden have fallen by 54% compared to the previous administration. The total number of strikes declared by the US in active conflict zones fell from 951 in 2020 to 439 in 2021.

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