Congress this week will take a closer look at military policies regarding remote air strikes against foreign enemies, amid criticism from outside groups that the Defense Department hasn’t done enough to limit civilian casualties.
On Tuesday, members of the House Select Intelligence committee will hold a closed-door briefing on a drone strike in Afghanistan late last August which killed 10 civilians. Military officials initially insisted the strike had killed terrorist leaders, but later backtracked after independent media disputed that.
However, no military personnel were punished for that attack.
On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on the broader issue of those drone attacks, and the “legal and human costs” of military policies regarding them.
Last week, in the aftermath of a military mission which killed the head of the Islamic State group in Syria, White House officials said they ruled out using a drone strike for the operation because of the potential civilian casualties such an action might cause.
Tuesday, Feb. 8
Senate Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — G-50 Dirksen
The committee will consider the nomination of Lt. Gen. Michael Kurilla to be the next head of U.S. Central Command.
Senate Homeland Security — 10 a.m. — 342 Dirksen
Outside experts will testify on recent cyber attacks and challenges ahead.
House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — online hearing
Education in Africa
Outside experts will testify on improving access to education in Africa.
Senate Foreign Relations — 10 a.m. — 106 Dirksen
The committee will consider several pending ambassador nominations.
House Select Intelligence — 10 a.m. — closed briefing
Kabul drone strike
Defense officials will testify on intelligence related to the Aug. 29 drone strike in Kabul which killed multiple civilians.
House Foreign Affairs — 1 p.m. — online hearing
The committee will consider several pending bills.
House Armed Services — 2 p.m. — 2118 Rayburn
Military personnel management
Personnel officials from the services will testify on military talent management policies.
House Veterans’ Affairs — 2 p.m. — online hearing
VA officials will testify on support services for survivors and dependents of veterans.
Wednesday, Feb. 9
Senate Foreign Relations — 10 a.m. — closed briefing
State Department officials will give a classified briefing to committee members on security concerns related to Iran.
Senate Judiciary — 10 a.m. — 216 Hart
Officials will testify on military remote strike policies and procedures.
Senate Foreign Relations — 2:30 p.m. — 106 Dirksen
Outside experts will testify on the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
House Veterans’ Affairs — 10 a.m. — online hearing
VA officials will testify on plans to update and upgrade department technology systems.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.