US Military Questions Afghani Children’s Innocence: Army Lieutenant Believes They Should be Targeted

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A US Army Lieutenant’s claim that troops are on the lookout for “children with potential hostile intent” raises questions over whether the US  Army is actively targeting Afghani children as combatants. Concerns of US targeting of children were raised when, after an October 2012 airstrike killed three children under the age of 13, US Army Lieutenant Colonel Marion Carrington and an unnamed military official, in an interview with the Military Times, questioned the innocence of Afghani children, citing the Taliban’s past use of children in suicide bombing missions.

Counter-terrorism experts question if citing children as threats is a way to legitimize them as military targets, citing shifts in military policy enacted under the Obama Administration. New flexibility in what the military deems as “threatening”  is increasing risks to children, with the U. S. facing criticism for coining the ambiguous standard of “military–aged males,” which identifies all males of a certain age as possible or likely combatants.

An October 2012 New York Times report of a coalition strike killing three children typifies media coverage of such events, focusing on military allegations that the children were setting IEDs.


Dan Lamothe, and Joe Gould. “Some Afghan Kids Aren’t Bystanders”, Military Times. December 3, 2013.

McVeigh, Karen, “US military facing fresh questions over targeting of children in Afghanistan”, The Guardian, December 7, 2012,

Weinberg, Bill. “Children Targeted in Afghanistan.” World War 4 Report. December 8 2012.

Rubin, J. Alissa, “Questions Raised in Deaths of Afghan Children in Coalition Strike”, The New York Times, October 17, 2012,


Student Researchers: Katie Farnham, Andrea DiNatale, Michael Canfield, Conor Rohan (SUNY Buffalo State)

Faculty Evaluator: Dr. Michael I. Niman (SUNY Buffalo State)