- The likelihood of "target creep" in which air strikes expand to an ever-growing list of target types;
- The likelihood of "force evolution," in which new types of assets are brought into theater to accelerate an apparently slow-moving campaign;
- The inevitability of civilian casualties;
- The new information environment created by observers on the ground equipped with smart phones, camera, and satellite imagery; and
- The need for a coherent post-conflict reconstruction plan focused on providing immediate civilian services – "shoes on the ground" to accompany boots on the ground.
The presence of camera-enabled smart phones means any action – from an airstrike to a simple equipment move – not only can, but almost certainly will, be filmed and posted online in near real time, probably with its exact GPS coordinates. . . .Likewise things like the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, or Russian bombing of US-allied rebels, also become immediately known to the world. I suppose spies these days spend more of their time searching Instagram than bribing agents or burglarizing secure buildings.
Soldiers who have their own smart phones can compromise operational security and become a potential diplomatic liability by posting indiscreet pictures of themselves online. Indeed, one of the first indications Russia was planning action in Syria was a set of social media posts from members of the 810th Marine Division showing them traveling and posing in Syria in early September 2015. The risk to security becomes particularly acute when the phone camera in question is GPS-enabled. The coordinates are then embedded in the photo file, allowing viewers to identify where the photo was taken almost to the square yard.
Even if troops on the ground can be persuaded not to post selfies – in itself a challenge – anyone else with a camera and internet access can quickly betray their presence. For example, the arrival in Libya of a team of twenty US commandos, as part of the campaign against ISIL, was immediately revealed when the Libyan Air Force posted pictures of them on its Facebook page.
I am not sure that this has yet made much difference in terms of whether people are bombed or not, but it certainly bears thinking that operational military security will be very hard to achieve in the future.
"The inevitability of civilian casualties;"
-Depends on the targets. Only ~100 civilians were killed as a result of airstrikes in Libya.
100 dead people still counts as civilian casualties.
If another nation conducted military operations that killed 100 American citizens, the uproar would be incredible.
Meanwhile, we have over 150,000 documented and confirmed civilian deaths from the Iraq War, with the largest percentage being caused by US and allied forces, at least 33% of the total - or effectively 50,000 innocent people by us.
For context, there were only about 100,000 actual combatants killed in the entire war. That's right - we started a war that killed 1.5x as many civilians as soldiers, and 0.5x times as many were directly our fault.
And that's just the war itself - it doesn't factor in how we destabilized the entire region and directly paved the way for even more death and destruction which we're still struggling to contain to this very day.
And people wonder why much of the world hates America. Surely it must be their choice of religion, rather than the mountain of unavenged and openly ignored attrocities we've carried out against them? ...right?
Uh, Verloren, you do know that all the polls after the overthrow of Gaddafi showed the overwhelming majority of Libyans supported the NATO intervention?
"That's right - we started a war that killed 1.5x as many civilians as soldiers, and 0.5x times as many were directly our fault."
-"We" didn't. Bush II did.
"And that's just the war itself - it doesn't factor in how we destabilized the entire region and directly paved the way for even more death and destruction which we're still struggling to contain to this very day."
-You are hopelessly ignorant about anything and everything that ever went on in the Near East. Bush ended the Iraq War in victory. The Syrian war did not begin with an IS invasion from Iraq. Quite the contrary. It was Obama who re-created the IS in his second term from the bricks of the Syrian chaos, which he is also responsible for.
"And people wonder why much of the world hates America. Surely it must be their choice of religion, rather than the mountain of unavenged and openly ignored attrocities we've carried out against them? ...right?"
-Your claims are true for for Serbia. They are false for much, though not all, of the Middle East.
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