How Now Shall We Fight? The Relevance of the Law of Armed Conflict to the United States and It's Coalition Members in Light of the Terrorist Attacks of 11 September 2001   [open pdf - 816KB]

The terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and the war in Afghanistan that followed have presented situations never before encountered by the United States in armed conflict and have changed some of the ways in which the U.S. conducts warfare. The Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) has not kept up with those changes. As a result, the U.S. must examine whether the application of the LOAC is still relevant to how we fight wars and against whom we fighting in the twenty-first century, and make necessary adjustments so that operational commanders will have a framework to use in warfare that is current and relevant to helping them maintain superiority on the battlefield. This paper points to some of what has changed on the battlefield with regard to U.S., coalition and enemy forces since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It discusses what issues those changes have created, and where the LOAC needs changes, suggests changes designed to make the LOAC more relevant to how the U.S. fights wars in order to provide operational commanders with an improved framework to use in armed conflicts. This paper also addresses the point that not as much has changed as one might think and that the LOAC will remain basically intact.

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