Today, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III issued a memorandum directing the Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan (CHMRAP) within 90 days. The CHMRAP will outline the steps the Department will take, and the resources that will be required, to implement appropriate recommendations from recently-completed studies of civilian harm sponsored by DoD, recent DoD Office of the Inspector General evaluations, and independent reviews directed into strikes that resulted in civilian casualties.
The CHMRAP will ensure the Department continues to improve the Department’s approach to civilian harm mitigation and response and will inform completion of a forthcoming DoD Instruction (DoDI) on Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response. The DoDI should be informed by the CHMRAP and presented to the Secretary of Defense for signature within 90 days of the CHMRAP’s conclusion. The action plan will adopt a comprehensive approach, reinforcing that DoD’s efforts to protect civilians are the responsibility of all leaders throughout the Department, always, and not only that of commanders and personnel in the field in the execution of missions assigned. The DoDI will make and ensure operational commands are well-supported with institutional resources, tools, and capabilities.
Additionally, the CHMRAP provide for the Department to implement the following immediate steps:
- Establish a civilian protection center of excellence to better expedite and institutionalize the advancement of our knowledge, practices, and tools for preventing, mitigating, and responding to civilian harm.
- Develop more standardized civilian-harm operational reporting and data management processes to improve how we collect, share, and learn from data related to civilian harm.
- Review guidance and its associated implementation of how the Department responds to civilian harm, including, but not limited to, condolence payments and the public acknowledgment of harm.
- Incorporate guidance for addressing civilian harm across the full spectrum of armed conflict into doctrine and operational plans, so that we are prepared to mitigate and respond to civilian harm in any future fight.
The protection of innocent civilians in the conduct of operations remains vital to the ultimate success of our operations and as a significant strategic and moral imperative.
The Memorandum on Improving Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response can be found here.
The RAND Corporation independent assessment can be found here.