Just after the US military launched a Hellfire missile to stop a white Toyota Corolla it believed to be an imminent threat to US troops leading the evacuation at the Kabul airport, the CIA issued an urgent warning: Civilians were likely in the area, including possibly children inside the vehicle, according to three sources familiar with the situation.
It was too late. The warning on August 29 came seconds before the missile hit the car, killing 10 civilians, including seven children…
It’s not clear whether the military informed the intelligence community that it had decided to pull the trigger — if for no other reason than that the situation was rapidly evolving. The military calls such strikes, which commanders in the field were authorized to take without consulting up the chain of command, “dynamic.”
In some cases, the military might ask the intelligence community to “task” its surveillance drones and other assets to watch a particular car or a particular location. The intelligence community would share data on the targets with the Defense Department in real time, but it is ultimately the military ground force commander’s decision to take the strike.