How Will the Military Avoid Civilian Deaths in Libya?

Analysts say they could be "difficult or impossible" to avoid. 

A U.S. Navy F-16 fighter jet takes off for Libya. (AFP/Getty Images)

The Huffington Post reports that U.S. and allied air crews taking part in the newest phase of the war in Libya may struggle to avoid civilian casualties, despite their best intentions and instructions to make "conservative decisions":

While the military strategy likely seems clear in the White House Situation Room, analysts said, it may be difficult or impossible to execute flawlessly while avoiding unintended consequences.

Amid the chaos in Libya, with armed civilians and ragtag government forces clustering on city street corners or careening down desert roads in civilian SUVs, trying to distinguish Gaddafi hardliners from rebels and armed opposition civilians from refugees can be nightmarishly difficult for a pilot at night, barreling along at 500 knots 20,000 feet over a city with his finger on the trigger.

Pilots have been issued very restrictive rules of engagement and instructed to make "conservative" decisions, a senior defense official told the Huffington Post. "We just cannot afford to take the chance of striking the kind of people we are there to protect," the official said.

If civilian deaths do occur, they'll certainly make even more people question whether it was right for the U.S. to intervene in the first place. Most recently, Dennis Kucinich has taken that debate to another level by suggesting that President Obama's decision to engage in these attacks is an "impeachable offense."

Read more at the Huffington Post.

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