The Pentagon announced the tragic toll of a botched drone strike in Afghanistan earlier this month, confirming that 10 civilians — including seven children — were killed.
This week, former Deputy Assitant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Mick Mulroy said similar tragedies are likely to unfold in the war-torn nation because the U.S. no longer has reliable intelligence on the ground there.
“We don’t have any of that”
Mulroy, a veteran of the Afghanistan war, issued his warning in a statement to the Daily Caller.
“Now that we don’t have an on-the-ground presence, it’s going to be harder to target people and know they’re the right people,” he said.
The former defense official explained that the U.S. “had an intelligence service” and “bases all over the country,” which gave the American military “the ability to move about, to meet with people.”
Under the Biden administration, however, he lamented that “we don’t have any of that.”
A drone attack on Aug. 29 was initially described as a successful strike against ISIS-K operatives believed to have been responsible for a terrorist bombing that killed 13 service members and many others in Kabul just days earlier. Instead of hitting the intended target, however, the attack killed a U.S.-allied aid worker and nine others, mostly children.
“The terrorists they don’t want you to kill”
James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation agreed with Mulroy’s assessment.
The foreign policy expert asserted that relying on intelligence from Pakistan and the Taliban will not be sufficient, noting that “if it’s the terrorists they don’t want you to kill” then those sources will not be forthcoming with information necessary to track them down.
“You can kill terrorists,” Carafano said. “There’s no question about that. But there’s a difference between killing individual terrorists and actually getting rid of the threat.”
For his part, Mulroy suggested a thorough review of the recent strike would be necessary to reverse negative sentiment against the U.S., concluding: “Part of being able to conduct these operations is the confidence in the American people that they’re being done with the utmost care not to … kill innocent civilians, especially children.”
Mistakes are bound to be made when foreign policy plays out in a warzone, but when American officials attempt to downplay or dismiss those mistakes to save face, it is sure to contribute to the growing resentment many nations around the world have against the U.S.