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Irreversible Damage: Civilian Harm in Modern Conflict

United States forces and their allies abroad have underestimated the irreversible damage done to their missions when they kill or harm civilians, says a new report by combat veteran and strategist Christopher Kolenda and human rights researcher Rachel Reid. Yet military forces can make changes to dramatically reduce civilian casualties—and did so in Afghanistan—without undermining their own force protection or ceding military advantage. Tragically, this hard-won lesson is often lost, as in the disastrous U.S. airstrike on an Afghan hospital that killed 42 people in October. On June 8, join the report’s authors, with former Under Secretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy, for a discussion at USIP of their findings.

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