Precision Guided Munitions and Collateral Damage: Does the Law of Armed Conflict Require the Use of Precision Guided Munitions When Conducting Urban Aerial Attacks?
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSONAFB OH
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Technology, state policy, and international law all come together to determine if the use of Precision Guided Munitions PGMs is required by the law of armed conflict to reduce collateral damage in urban air operations. Both international standards and standards for the United States, the world leader in PGM technology, is addressed. The use of PGMs may be required by international law, as determined on a case-by-case basis, based on the information available at the time the mission was planned and executed. Factors that go into the determination of whether or not a PGM must be employed under the law of armed conflict include limiting factors such as environmental disruption or effective guidance jamming, and PGM availability. Availability is not only measured in immediate availability, but also considers whether or not there is a need to sustain a long operation, as opposed to the use of force in an isolated raid. This paper also discuses whether, pursuant to the Martens Clause, a rule of customary law requiring the use of PGMs in all circumstances where there was the possibility of collateral damage could evolve. Due to the continuous development of new means of warfare, the lengthy process of developing custom, and, most importantly, the international law preference for recognizing general principles rather than creating specific prohibitions when there is no controlling treaty, customary international law requiring the use of PGMs is not likely to crystallize,
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
- Guided Munitions