General John F. Campbell, top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, on Tuesday acknowledged that the deadly airstrike on a hospital in the northern city of Kunduz occurred despite “rigorous” U.S. military guidelines designed to avoid such mishaps.
Campbell confessed to the Senate Armed Services Committee that an attack targeting the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan was the result of troops not falling in line with the U.S. Chain of Command. In other words, the troops broke the rules. “A hospital was mistakenly struck,” Campbell rued. “We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility.”
According to report from the New York Times, airstrikes are authorized to only kill terrorists, protect American troops and help Afghans who need to be shielded from the warzone.
In his testimony, which lasted for more than 30 minutes, General Campbell offered a few details about the attack that could eventually lead to the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. Campell spoke in front of the Senate committee and said that President Barack Obama should revise his current plan, calling for cutting the force from 9,800 to about 1,000 embassy-based security by the end of 2016. “Based on conditions on the ground, I do believe we have to provide our senior leadership (with) options different than the current plan we are going with,” Campbell said.
Doctors Without Borders said the strike, which killed 22 patients, “may amount to a war crime.” Christopher Stokes, general director of Doctors Without Borders, reckoned “there can be no justification for this horrible attack” and that it was critical to conduct “a fully transparent independent investigation.”
U.S. officials had first said the attack was a response to Taliban incursions from close to the hospital. In fact, one Afghan spokesman said the enemy force were “using the hospital as a base”.
— Doctors w/o Borders (@MSF_USA) October 6, 2015