Tailoring Strikes

Air Force Maj. Gen. David Edgington, head of the air component coordination element for operations in Iraq, told reporters (see above) in Iraq that coalition air forces are using smaller weapons and using the Hellfire-equipped Predator (and now Reaper) unmanned aerial vehicles to strike enemy targets. He said the smaller weapons carried “every day right now” limit collateral damage. A Predator fired Hellfire is “not going to drop an entire building,” he explained, showing video footage from a Predator strike that took out individuals firing on coalition forces. In another video, an aircraft fired a Joint Direct Attack Munition “set for an air burst” so that it didn’t penetrate the ground but rather took out enemy forces hiding in trees. In another, a laser-guided Maverick missile with a 125-pound warhead—”which is a rather small warhead”—took out a truck laden with bomb-making materials. In still another video, he showed a house “essentially destroyed from the inside” by a partially concrete-filled small warhead JDAM. By using this “version four” JDAM, he explained, “nothing around [the house] was damaged.” Edgington also cited the care with which coalition forces verify information before launching air strikes, saying, “We don’t guess that there are bad guys in this building.” However, he noted, “There is never going to be a guarantee that there will be zero civilian casualties.”