Air Force Clears Crew Of Wrongdoing In Afghanistan Pullout

( The US Air Force crew of the C-17 that was mobbed by Afghan civilians as it took off from Kabul airport after the collapse of the Afghan government in August of last year has been cleared of wrongdoing.

The C-17 Globemaster had landed at the airport in mid-August 2021 to deliver equipment for the evacuation efforts. But before the crew could offload the cargo, the plane was mobbed by hundreds of civilians who had breached the airport perimeter hoping to escape the Taliban.

Faced with the deteriorating situation on the ground, the crew decided to take off from the airfield. When the C-17 landed at al Udeid Airbase in Qatar, the dead body of one of the Afghans was found in the wheel well.

On Monday, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in a statement that the Staff Judge Advocate offices from Air Mobility Command and USCENTCOM had reviewed the inquiry findings and determined that the crew complied with “applicable rules of engagement specific to the event and the overall law of armed conflict.”

According to Stefanek, after landing at al Udeid, the Office of Special Investigations processed the aircraft and the body and then released the scene to Qatari police “who declined further investigation.” Stefanek added that the crew’s operational leadership reviewed the mission details and concluded that the crew exercised sound judgment when they decided to leave Kabul quickly. She said the crew’s “quick thinking ensured the safety” of both the aircraft and the crew.

Video footage showing Afghan civilians clinging to the wheels of planes taking off from Kabul went viral on social media and broadcast news at the time, with scenes of bodies dropping hundreds of feet from the air onto the ground below.

When asked about the tragic sight a few days later, President Biden dismissed it, angrily telling ABC News host George Stephanopoulos “that was four days ago, five days ago.”