Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts A Potential Vulnerability of Precision-Strike Warfare?

A Potential Vulnerability of Precision-Strike Warfare?

I n summer 2003, the Wall Street Journal’s Max Boot hailed the remarkable transformation of the American way of war that was being displayed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He remarked on the dramatic reduction of costs—both in lives and dollars—from the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, to this second Gulf War. Particularly striking among many impressive statistics are the casualty rates. During Desert Storm an estimated 100,000 Iraqi soldiers died and some 300,000 were wounded; Baghdad reported that there had been 35,000 Iraqi civilian casualties. Losses among Iraqi forces during the second Gulf War are less certain, but probably number in the several thousands. Press reports of civilian casualties range from about 6,000 to approximately 7,700. If casualty figures provide a sound metric, the second Gulf War was far less punishing for Iraqis than the first.

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