The Air War: How Targets Are Chosen

The tragedy in Baghdad reveals the painstaking methods used to identify military installations and -- usually -- to spare civilians

The Stealth fighter-bombers located their target in the 4 a.m. darkness over Baghdad. Their laser-guided, 2,000-lb. bombs hit their mark with pinpoint accuracy. They cut through 12 ft. of reinforced concrete and exploded, peeling away the protective cover and destroying the bunker.

It was a perfect example of the kind of precise, high-technology air war the allies have conducted against Iraq. It was also a tragedy: the bunker was filled with Iraqi civilians who had taken refuge there from nighttime raids on the capital. But U.S. officials insisted that there had been no mistake and the bunker was, in fact, a...

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