Document Type

Chapter of Book

Publication Date



Has the early part of the twenty-first century shown the most dramatic revolution in the role of law in armed conflict in history? Evidence suggests that it has. Today, for example, allegations about civilian casualties often dominate our discussions about strategy in irregular war, itself a phenomenon that, according to the National Defense Strategy, will preoccupy our military services for years to come. Indeed, as will be discussed below in more detail, adherence to law in armed conflict fact and perception is increasingly a central, if not defining, concern of field commanders, as well as military and civilian leaders at every level. It is appropriate then to pause for a moment and discuss our experiences in Iraq since 2003, and to see what lessons we should—and should not—draw from them. Of course, there are many aspects of the role of law—and lawyers—but this paper will confine itself to some of the issues that arose from the use of airpower.