Jun 13, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Military clears crew of Air Force jet that took off as people fell to their deaths in Kabul

Photo of a U.S. Air Force aircraft flying against the backdrop of the Kabul skyline

A U.S. Air Force aircraft takes off from the airport in Kabul on Aug. 30, 2021. Photo by Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The Air Force's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) has cleared the crew operating the C-17 aircraft that lifted off as multiple civilians clung to the jet during the U.S.'s withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, Military.com reports.

Why it matters: Several people were killed after plummeting from the aircraft, which had been departing Kabul following the country's fall to the Taliban. OSI said it would review the incident upon discovering human remains in the plane's wheel well.

What they're saying: Military investigators and lawyers have cleared the C-17 crew, which had been working "during an unprecedented evacuation where resources were constrained to on-going security and evacuation activities," the office said in a statement to Military.com.

  • "The Staff Judge Advocate offices from both the Air Mobility Command and the United States Central Command conducted a review of the inquiry findings and rendered concurring opinions that the aircrew was in compliance with applicable rules of engagement specific to the event and the overall law of armed conflict," Air Force OSI spokesperson Linda Card added in a statement.
  • "The aircrew's airmanship and quick thinking ensured the safety of the crew and their aircraft," Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek said in a statement to Military.com.
  • "After seeking appropriate care and services to help cope with any trauma from this unprecedented experience, the crew returned to flight status."

The big picture: The deaths at the Kabul airport were largely a reflection of the Biden administration's failures in preparing evacuations for Afghan allies.

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