Daily Archives: November 4, 2011

NATO Counts the Costs, Libya Counts the Bodies: numbers in dispute means no blame

As the dust settles on Nato’s seven-month mission over Libya, there are few reliable statistics.  No-one is really sure, at least for now, how much this war has cost in human lives.  Estimates of those killed – including pro-Gaddafi forces, “rebel” forces and civilians – currently vary between 2,000 and 30,000.  Given that the United Nations’ mandate for the mission over Libya was to “protect civilians”, the Nato alliance has always maintained that it took every precaution to avoid such casualties.  nThe alliance says precautions often included round-the-clock surveillance from the air to establish “patterns of life” to ensure that civilians would not be hit.

On a number of occasions, planned air strikes were called off at the last minute because of fears that civilians could be hidden among legitimate military targets.To avoid undermining the mission, the alliance also relied heavily on “precision” weapons – bombs and missiles with “low collateral damage” guided by either laser or GPS systems.  The RAF’s Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Stephen Dalton, told MPs last week that these weapons “performed well above the predicted level”. In one example, more than 98% of Brimstone missiles fired by RAF warplanes directly hit their target. The few that did not, still landed within a few yards.  Nato carried out nearly 10,000 strike sorties during its seven-month mission in Libya  But Nato did NOT ONLY-