The Law of Operational Targeting: Viewing the LOAC Through an Operational Lens
44 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2011 Last revised: 24 Oct 2012
Date Written: August 21, 2011
Understanding how air and missile warfare is planned, executed, and regulated requires more than just an understanding of relevant LOAC provisions. In U.S. practice (and that of many other countries), air and missile warfare is one piece of a broader operational mosaic of law and military doctrine related to the joint targeting process. Air and missile warfare is embedded within this broader targeting process. Accordingly, a genuine understanding of the law of air and missile warfare necessitates understanding how the LOAC influences and is integrated within this targeting process.
How operational commanders select, attack, and assess potential targets and how the LOAC reflects the logic of military doctrine related to this process is therefore the objective of this Essay. To achieve this ‘objective’, the authors will focus on a recent decision by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Prosecutor v. Gotovina. Although the military operation at the center to this case involved only limited use of air and missile warfare, the Tribunal’s extensive focus on the use of artillery and rocket attacks provides a useful and highly relevant illustration of why understanding the interrelationship between law and military doctrine is essential for the logical and credible development of the law. The author’s therefore seek to ‘exploit’ this case as an opportunity to expose the reader to this interrelationship, an interrelationship equally essential to the effective evolution of the law of air and missile warfare.
Keywords: Law of Armed Conflict, law of war, humanitarian law, targeting, drones, armed conflict
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation