Jonathan Horowitz Comments on Army Manual on Avoiding Civilian Harm

By Benjamin Wittes
Thursday, July 26, 2012, 7:07 AM

Jonathan Horowitz of the Open Society Justice Initiative has largely positive comments on the new Army manual on avoiding civilian harm. It opens:

This month, Lawfareblog.com posted the U.S. Army’s new manual on Civilian Casualty Mitigation (ATTP 3-37.31), which has the self-described purpose of providing “doctrinal guidance for minimizing CIVCAS [army short-hand for ‘civilian casualties’] incidents and managing their consequences.” In many ways, the manual elaborates on aspects of civilian protection priorities that U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine has been advancing for years.

Overall ATTP 3-37.31 is an impressive document, but there are a few drawbacks.

Horowitz concludes:

All-in-all, however, the manual is a positive step and the issue of [civilian casualty mitigation], both as a legal obligation and as a strategic priority, should be incorporated into all relevant military manuals.  It’s to the Army’s credit that it took the time to reflect on the past 10-plus years of war to publish this manual. The manual’s existence is also a tribute to the persistence of human rights groups, civil society and journalists for raising the problems that civilians face during conflict.