AFP 110-31: International Law - The Conduct of Armed Conflict and Air Operations and the Linebacker Bombing Campaigns of the Vietnam War.
CENTER FOR NAVAL ANALYSES ALEXANDRIA VA RESOURCE ANALYSIS RESEARCH DEPT
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AFP 110-31, International Law--The Conduct of Armed Conflict and Air Operations, is the first pamphlet published by the United States Air Force on the law of war. Its purpose is to explained the principles of the law of armed conflict, particularly as they apply to air operations. Its chapters contain discussions of the context, determinants, applications, and observance of the law of armed conflict the status of airspace and aircraft the status of combatants, noncombatants, and civilians air-to-air and naval operations aerial bombardment aerial weapons uniform, insignia, and marking requirements perfidy and ruses epsionage and sabotage and enforcement measures. In addition, the pamphlet addresses the Geneva Conventions, states obligations to observe and enforce the law, and individual criminal responsibility for acts violating it. This paper addresses these concerns by applying the standards in AFP 110-31 governing aerial bombardment to two particularly controversial aerial campaigns of the Vietnam War--Linebacker I and Linebacker II. This analysis concludes that the Linebacker campaigns were militarily effective and that, had AFP 110-31 been in effect in 1972, the campaigns, as they were actually conducted, would have conformed to the pamphlets restrictions on aerial bombardment. These campaigns demonstrate that the pamphlets rules on aerial bombardment are practical and can be complied with, given the proper technology and a conscious effort by commanders, their staffs, and aircrews.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics