A new Defense Department report following an investigation into allegations U.S. troops were told to ignore child rape by Afghan military officials has confirmed those reports.
The DoD Office of Inspector General launched its investigation in 2015 after the first media reports began to surface, and it reported its findings Thursday in a 106-page document. It came back with four key findings, as well as a batch of recommendations.
The key findings were:
- prior to specific command guidance issued in September 2015, U.S. personnel in Afghanistan may not have known to report allegations of child sexual abuse to their chains of command;
- the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy does not have standardized guidance or a process for determining whether information supporting gross violations of human rights (such as child rape) allegations is credible;
- DoD decisions to withhold funding or apply the notwithstanding authority for gross violations of human rights, including instances of child sexual abuse committed by Afghan National Defense and Security Forces personnel under the color of law, only occur about once a year; and
- inconsistencies were found in the data provided to the OIG and records maintained by DoD components about reported allegations of child sexual abuse involving ANDSF personnel in Afghanistan.
In other words, the OIG credibly believes U.S. troops were told on occasion to ignore instances of child rape by Afghan military officials, because there wasn’t any policy in place to deal with reporting such incidents within their chain of command. And when such instances were reported, no means to determine whether or not they were credible allegations existed.
Furthermore, the OIG states there’s no way to know if these incidents were properly recorded, or if corrective action was taken.
This isn’t the first time the OIG has reported that U.S. military operations involving cooperation with Afghan officials was a chaotic mess. This past summer, it reported that no one kept track of ammunition provided to the Afghan military to ensure it was properly used.