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Last month, Defense Secretary Austin directed the department to create an action plan on civilian harm mitigation and response. Michael McNerney, acting director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation, has conducted an independent assessment of DoD processes and policies relating to civilian casualties resulting from U.S. military operations.

  • McNerney said some improvements to tactics and procedures surrounding civilian harm have been identified but not institutionalized; he said the military drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians last August was part of a pattern of problems for DoD.
  • He said two major failures in the drone strike were misidentification of people and lack of situational awareness around the targeted area.
  • McNerney said the department undercounts civilian casualties because of issues with its methodology, including a tendency to discount information from external sources and confirmation bias.

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