Reps. Sara Jacobs, Jason Crow, Ro Khanna, Andy Kim, and Tom Malinowski Launch New Caucus to Prevent and Reduce Civilian Harm
Washington, August 26, 2022 | Lauren McIlvaine
Following the Department of Defense’s release of its Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan (CHMR-AP), Representatives Sara Jacobs (CA-53), Jason Crow (CO-06), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Andy Kim (NJ-03), and Tom Malinowski (NJ-07) launched a new congressional caucus to conduct oversight and advance policies that prevent, reduce, and respond to civilian harm as a result of U.S. and partners’ operations. The Protection of Civilians in Conflict Caucus, of which Rep. Jacobs, Crow, Khanna, Kim, and Malinowski, will serve as co-chairs, seeks to remedy the current trend of civilian harm treated as an “acceptable” or “unavoidable” consequence of conflict and the growing number of internally displaced people, refugees, and wounded or killed civilians.
“Civilian harm never has been and never will be an acceptable cost of war,” said Congresswoman Sara Jacobs. “Military operations that displace, kill, and otherwise harm civilians leave a moral stain on our conscience and give our adversaries a powerful recruiting tool. The CHMR-AP lays the groundwork for ambitious reform at the Department of Defense and I thank Secretary Austin for his leadership. The Protection of Civilians in Conflict Caucus will focus on successfully implementing this plan to address our systemic failures to limit civilian harm, conduct much-needed oversight, and push legislation to protect kids, families, and civilians in harm’s way around the world.”
Rep. Jason Crow said, “The U.S. must set the standard for protecting civilians during conflict, and that standard must be higher. As an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan I learned that civilian casualties are not an unavoidable cost of war and protecting innocents goes hand in hand with mission success. The first step is increasing transparency and accountability within DOD so we can do better. I’m proud to lead this effort with my colleagues on the Protection of Civilians in Conflict Caucus.”
“It’s almost impossible to think of the seven children who were killed in a drone strike in Kabul last year and not feel the urgency to act. We have an obligation to protect the lives of children and other civilians in U.S. military operations. I applaud the DoD’s Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan that was released today and am glad to have pushed for these reforms with my colleagues. Reps. Crow, Jacobs, Kim, and I will continue to work to ensure that the reforms are meaningfully implemented by Congress to prevent civilian casualties around the world with the creation of the Protection of Civilians in Conflict Caucus,” said Rep. Khanna.
“During my time working in national security I saw too many areas where we didn’t do enough to protect innocent civilians from harm and didn’t have the accountability when things went wrong. That’s why I’m stepping up to be a co-chair of the Protection of Civilians in Conflict Caucus,” said Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03). “I’m ready to be part of Congress’ efforts to mitigate civilian harm and ensure we’re working with partners across the world to bring about change and protect people from the horrors of war and conflict.”
“The evidence is clear: after twenty years of mostly unfulfilled pledges on preventing civilian harm, the Pentagon has shown that it needs the involvement of others outside the chain of command in setting policy and ensuring accountability,” said Rep. Tom Malinowski. “I’m pleased that the Pentagon has released a new plan to seriously tackle this issue and look forward to engaging with the Department on implementation through our new caucus.”
“Congress has a critical role to play in ensuring that the United States prevents, mitigates, and responds to civilian harm with transparency and accountability. As the Defense Department works to overhaul its policies after over twenty years of repeated civilian harm, we applaud the creation of this caucus to support those efforts, conduct meaningful and necessary oversight, and champion legislation to better protect civilians affected by conflict,” said Annie Shiel, Senior Advisor for the United States at Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC).
Reps. Sara Jacobs, Ro Khanna, Jason Crow, and Tom Malinowski have also introduced bicameral legislation to address civilian harm. The Protection of Civilians in Military Operations Act and the Department of Defense Civilian Harm Transparency Act would improve the prevention, mitigation, reporting, and transparency of civilian harm caused by U.S. military operations.