The U.S. military has released its explanation for the assault on the MSF hospital in Kunduz. Of course it was all just a big mistake. To summarize:
- Afghan forces requested an airstrike, saying they were under fire. However, they did not provide map coordinates of the building they wanted to be attacked, they just "described its location."
- U.S. special forces passed on the description to the crew of the AC-130.
- The plane had been diverted from another mission and its crew was not familiar with Kunduz, and had not been briefed on the location of the hospital.
- The location description was apparently vague or inaccurate (it referred to an open field), so the crew decided to attack the hospital building.
- U.S. ground forces were not within visual range of the attack.
- An on-board targeting computer that might have stored the coordinate of the hospital as off-limits wasn't working.
- No explanation as to why the AC-130 attacked even though there was no evidence of a firefight. (They would have seen it with infrared surveillance if it was happening.)
- No explanation of why the crew did not confirm the identity of the target when the information they had turned out to be incorrect.
- No explanation of why the attack continued for an hour despite frantic calls by hospital personnel to U.S., Afghan, United Nations and Red Cross officials.