United States of America
Practice Relating to Rule 8. Definition of Military Objectives
The US Air Force Pamphlet (1976) considers that “troops in the field are military objectives beyond any dispute”.
According to the US Naval Handbook (1995), combatants and troop concentrations are military objectives.
The US Naval Handbook (2007) states: “Military objectives are combatants”.
The Handbook also states: “Proper objects of attack include, but are not limited to, such military objectives as … troop concentrations”.
The US Manual for Military Commissions (2010), Part IV, Crimes and Elements, states that: “The term ‘military objective’ means – (A) combatants”.
The US Military Commissions Act (2009) amends Chapter 47A of Title 10 of the United States Code as follows:
“§ 950p. Definitions; construction of certain offenses; common circumstances
“(a) DEFINITIONS.—In this subchapter:
“(1) The term “military objective” means combatants.
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] enemy troop concentrations.”
In 1991, in a report submitted to the UN Security Council on operations in the Gulf War, the United States stated that it considered the “occupation forces in Kuwait and southern Iraq” as legitimate military targets. It also stated that it had attacked Iraq’s naval forces in the northern Gulf and specified: “These attacks have been on Iraqi units that are engaged in operations against coalition forces.”
In a subsequent report, the United States stated that the Republican Guard remained a “high priority” target.
In another such report, the United States reiterated that it considered “the Republican Guard and other ground troops in the Kuwaiti theater of operations” as a legitimate target of attack.
In 1991, during a news briefing concerning the Gulf War, the US Secretary of Defense stated that the “mainstay of Saddam’s command forces, the Republican Guard units located near the Iraqi/Kuwaiti border” were considered military targets and had been attacked.
In 1992, in its final report to Congress on the conduct of the Gulf War, the US Department of Defense stated that Iraq’s air forces, naval forces and army units, including the Republican Guard, had been included among the 12 target sets for the coalition’s attacks.