MSF’s Questions in Response to the US Military Investigation into Attack on MSF Hospital in Kunduz

The United States military today released its investigative report on the attack on the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) trauma hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on October 3, 2015. The attack killed 42 people, including 14 MSF staff members, and wounded dozens more.

MSF was only able to access the report today, when it was made publicly available online, following a public briefing by the head of US Central Command, General Joseph Votel. Yesterday, MSF received a two-hour verbal briefing from Gen. Votel and his team on the main findings and recommendations of the US military investigation. MSF will take the time necessary to examine the US report, and to determine whether or not the US account answers the many questions that remain outstanding seven months after the attack.

  1. What was the physical description of the intended target provided by the Afghan forces and how did it match the description of the MSF hospital?
  2. Which forces—either US or Afghan—on the ground had "eyes on the target" [National Directorate of Security compound] before and during the attack? And if the US did not, why not?
  3. During the airstrike, how many calls or warnings were recording from Afghan Special Forces to the US Special Forces commander or the Joint Terminal Attack Controller to inform them of the targeting error, i.e. that the intended target (National Directorate of Security compound) was not being hit?
  4. Why was the attack not called off before the AC-130 completed its mission? Who would have been responsible to call off the attack of an AC-130 deprived of its essential communication capacity operating in a densely populated area? And why didn’t he/she?
  5. How do you reconcile the difference in the duration of the attack between the US version of events and the MSF internal review?
  6. Given that US.troops were not directly under fire, what are the limits of engagement of US forces in combat activities?
  7. How do you justify that no court martial is recommended in response to the killing of 42 people and considering the protected status of the hospital?
  8. Who within the chain of command is ultimately responsible for the deaths of 42 people, and how is that person being held accountable?
  9. Does the US consider the actions of US forces to be negligent, and if not, why?
  10. How will the disciplinary measures chosen deter US military personnel from violating the laws of war in the future?