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Department of Defense Law of War Manual Updated to Enhance Protections for Civilians

Legal guidance

Department of Defense Law of War Manual Updated to Enhance Protections for Civilians

A new section was added to the Department of Defense’s Law of War Manual on Monday covering the obligation to take feasible precautions in verifying if a potential target is a military objective. Examples of such precautionary measures are included in the update to the manual, which was first issued in 2015. 

The DOD also revised the manual’s provision on information assessment in planning and conducting attacks, adding substantial discussion on the law of war requirements in determining lawful targets. The manual reflects the U.S. tradition of respect for the rule of law and the law of war, the DOD said.

The manual is an authoritative legal guidance for the department’s personnel executing military operations. Caroline Krass, DOD general counsel and a Potomac Officers Club event speaker, said greater clarity is provided in the updated manual regarding requirements for protecting civilians and civilian objects during military operations.

The DOD said it will continue updating the manual so that its personnel will have the best possible resource for understanding and complying with the law of war.

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