Release
Immediate Release

Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on the Results of Central Command Investigation Into the 29 August Airstrike

Sept. 17, 2021

General McKenzie briefed me this morning about the findings of his investigation into the 29 August Kabul airstrike. 

The investigation concluded that the strike -- conducted to prevent what was believed to be an imminent threat to Hamid Karzai International Airport -- resulted in the deaths of as many as 10 people, including up to seven children.

On behalf of the men and women of the Department of Defense, I offer my deepest condolences to surviving family members of those who were killed, including Mr. Ahmadi, and to the staff of Nutrition and Education International, Mr. Ahmadi’s employer.

We now know that there was no connection between Mr. Ahmadi and ISIS-Khorasan, that his activities on that day were completely harmless and not at all related to the imminent threat we believed we faced, and that Mr. Ahmadi was just as innocent a victim as were the others tragically killed.

We apologize, and we will endeavor to learn from this horrible mistake.

To that end, I have directed a thorough review of the investigation just completed by U.S. Central Command.  I have asked for this review to consider the degree to which the investigation considered all available context and information, the degree to which accountability measures need be taken and at what level, and the degree to which strike authorities, procedures and processes need to be altered in the future. 

No military works harder than ours to avoid civilian casualties.  When we have reason to believe we have taken innocent life, we investigate it and, if true, we admit it.  But we also must work just as hard to prevent recurrence -- no matter the circumstances, the intelligence stream or the operational pressures under which we labor. 

We will do that in this case.  We will scrutinize not only what we decided to do -- and not do -- on the 29th of August, but also how we investigated those outcomes.

We owe that to the victims and their loved ones, to the American people and to ourselves.