“Precision” Warfare Should Lead to Precision Counts of Casualties

Why is it that the U.S. military consistently boasts about its precision munitions, and yet never tells us the number of casualties caused by those munitions. We are still waiting for a number of Iraqi soldiers killed in the first Gulf War. Perhaps the Allies were too busy bulldozing the evidence to take an accurate count.

In the current War on Iraq, again we are told that the precision of modern weapons at targeting combatants is the highest in recorded history. But what does that actually mean? How many people are we killing? How many Iraqi soldiers and paramilitary have we actually killed? How many Iraqi tanks, armored vehicles and artillery have we destroyed? If our weapons are precision guided — it seems that we should have a precise idea or estimate, if not an actual count?

How did the U.S. generals in Qatar make their decisions on when to send the ground forces in to “mop up” after days of aerial bombardment? We know they had some sort of formula based on enemy casualties, and we know that the generals were willing to use force depletion percentages in their public pronouncements. But what are the precise numbers of human lives lost in these endeavors?

We know the names of all the Allied servicemen and women lost in this war. What are the names of all the Iraqi servicemen lost in this war? Why should we have knowledge of the one and not the other? Are not lost human lives equal no matter what uniform they wore?

What about civilian casualties in Iraq? Why does the U.S. military avoid publicizing the numbers, the names, and the faces? Is there a victory in the killing, but an abhorrence only in publicizing of the actual results?

Don’t Americans deserve some precision in the accounting for what we have done? Isn’t precision part of the counting of the costs of war? Should not enemy and civilian lives be included in the accounting process, just like the cost of bombs and bullets?

Of course, if precision accounting was done to the American public, maybe the public would quickly reject war as too costly a way of solving political problems. Yet we do live in a democracy, and democracy can only work properly when the public is fully informed.

What does that fact tell us about the lack of precision in accounting for the human cost of war?

The writer is a member of several falconry and ornithological clubs and organizations. He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from California, USA.