United States of America
Practice Relating to Rule 8. Definition of Military Objectives
Section G. Economic installations
The US Naval Handbook (1995) states:
Proper economic targets for naval attack include enemy lines of communication, rail yards, bridges, rolling stock, barges, lighters, industrial installations producing war-fighting products, and power generation plants. Economic targets of the enemy that indirectly but effectively support and sustain the enemy’s war-fighting capability may also be attacked.
The US Naval Handbook (2007) states:
Proper objects of attack also include enemy lines of communication, rail yards, bridges, rolling stock, barges, lighters, industrial installations producing war-fighting products, and power generation plants. Economic objects of the enemy that indirectly but effectively support and sustain the enemy’s war-fighting capability may also be attacked.
During the Korean War, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff informed General MacArthur that mass air operations against industrial targets in North Korea were “highly desirable”. The Joint Chiefs of Staff accordingly designated, inter alia
, the following targets: the two munitions plants at Pyongyang, the three chemical plants at Hungnam, the oil refinery at Wonsan, the naval oil-storage tank farm at Rashin, the “Tong Iron Foundry” and the “Sam Yong Industrial Factory” at Chinnampo.
In 1950, the US Secretary of State stated: “The air activity of the United Nations forces in Korea has been, and is, directed solely at military targets of the invader. These targets [include] … war plants.”
In 1966, in reply to an inquiry from a member of the House of Representatives asking for a restatement of US policy on targeting in North Vietnam, a US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense wrote: “The United States has not targeted such installations as textile plants, fruit-canning plants, silk factories and thread cooperatives.”
In 1992, in its final report to Congress on the conduct of the Gulf War, the US Department of Defense stated that Iraq’s electricity production facilities, its oil refining and distribution facilities and its military production sites had been included among the 12 target sets for the coalition’s attacks.
In 1993, in its report to Congress on the protection of natural and cultural resources during times of war, the US Department of Defense stated:
Natural resources that may be of value to an enemy in his war effort are legitimate targets. The 1943 air raids on the Ploesti oil fields in Romania, and the Combined Bomber Offensive campaign against Nazi oil, were critical to allied defeat of Germany in World War II, for example … During Desert Storm, Coalition planners targeted Iraq’s ability to produce refined oil products (such as gasoline) that had immediate military use, but eschewed attack on its long-term crude oil production capability.
The Report on US Practice states:
The opinio juris
of the U.S. government recognizes the definition of military objectives in Article 52 of Additional Protocol I as customary law. United States practice gives a broad reading to this definition, and would include … war-supporting economic facilities as military objectives.