- From Douhet to drones, air warfare, and the evolution of targeting
- Book title
- Targeting: the challenges of modern warfare
- Pages (from-to)
- The Hague: Asser Press
- ISBN (electronic)
- Document type
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
- Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL)
Through the prism of the experience of air warfare, this chapter identifies key factors that have shaped targeting. These include technological developments, organizational structures, and processes and inter-service competition for scarce resources. Moreover, targeting is informed by perspectives on the nature of the political mandate and objectives, by the type of war, by intelligence on the nature of the opponent, and by assumptions that are derived from experience, doctrine, or strategic theory. It is, of course, shaped by societal norms. Targeting’s evolutionary process is one of solving technical and informational obstacles to finding and hitting targets. It is characterized by a trend in increased munitions accuracy and pinpoint attack capability against objects of an ever-decreasing physical signature in ever-shortening response times, and, if necessary, from ever-increasing distances from the target. The evolution is also a story of constant organizational learning, rediscovery, and theorizing about and experimenting with new targeting planning tools and processes. Moreover, there is a constantly swinging pendulum between the poles of centralized and decentralized control, with a strong tendency toward stringent political oversight. Finally, norms play an increasing role. As this chapter will argue, contemporary targeting challenges emanate from a paradox—as targeting accuracy has reached an unprecedented level, so too has the societal demand for risk-mitigation, precisely because of demonstrated targeting capabilities.
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