United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Practice Relating to Rule 8. Definition of Military Objectives
Section D. Weapons and weapon systems
The UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981) states that military objectives include “minefields [and] weapons”.
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states: “The term ‘military objective’ includes combatant members of the enemy armed forces and their military weapons, vehicles, equipment and installations.”
In 1991, in a report submitted to the UN Security Council on operations in the Gulf War, the United Kingdom stated that it had targeted Iraq’s fixed and mobile SCUD missile launchers and its chemical and biological warfare installations, production and storage capability.
In another such report, the United Kingdom stated that it had attacked “elements of the Iraqi air defence system” and specified that “the Royal Air Force [had] attacked surface-to-air missile sites, artillery positions, ammunition storage and Silkworm surface-to-surface missile sites”.
In 2003, during a debate in the House of Commons, the UK Secretary of State for Defence made a statement and replied to questions by Members:
The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon): With permission, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a statement about military operations to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.
President Bush announced at 3.15 this morning on behalf of the coalition that operations had begun with attacks on selected targets of military importance. Those attacks were carried out by coalition aircraft and cruise missiles on more than one target in the vicinity of Baghdad, following information relating to the whereabouts of very senior members of the Iraqi leadership. Those leaders are at the very heart of Iraq’s command and control system, responsible for directing Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.
In addition to those attacks, coalition forces yesterday carried out certain preliminary operations against Iraqi artillery, surface-to-surface missiles, and air defence systems within the southern no-fly zone. Those were prudent preparatory steps, using coalition air capabilities previously used in the no-fly zones, designed to reduce the threat to coalition forces in Kuwait. The protection of our servicemen and women is a matter of paramount importance.