Department of Defense Report Outlines Steps the U.S. Should Take to Respect and Protect Civilians in its Military Operations

On February 4, the U.S. Department of Defense released a redacted study report commissioned by General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on civilian casualties resulting from U.S Central Command (CENTCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) military operations between 2015 and 2017.

InterAction welcomes this Pentagon initiative to critically examine how it accounts for civilian casualties in U.S. military operations and to determine critical areas for improvement. 

“Armed conflict takes an absolutely devastating toll on civilians. But it shouldn’t. Military operations should be conducted with tremendous care and restraint to spare civilian lives and infrastructure. This study is a welcome and important contribution to understanding steps the U.S. can and should take to minimize harm in its military operations,” said InterAction CEO, Sam Worthington.

InterAction member NGOs respond to human suffering resulting from armed conflict in humanitarian crises around the world. They support civilian populations to cope with the loss of life, destruction of their assets and civilian infrastructure, displacement, food insecurity, risks to public health and other harm resulting from military operations by state forces and non-state armed groups.

“All military actors should devote this kind of effort to reflect critically on how their operations affect civilians and we hope others will follow the U.S. example. While this study does not yet go far enough to critically examine the extent and reasons for civilian harm in U.S. military operations, it is certainly an important step which should catalyze practical action to ensure that civilians are respected and protected,” said Jenny McAvoy, InterAction Director of Protection.

Related Resources:

The Protection of Civilians in U.S. Partnered Operations

Protection of Civilians in Mosul: Identifying Lessons for Contingency Planning

When War Moves to Cities: Protection of Civilians in Urban Areas