POLITICAL CONSTRAINTS ON URBAN OPERATIONS
The legal obligations described in Chapter Two are supplemented by an additional set of constraints on planners—constraints driven by political forces. Public and coalition sensitivity to friendly casualties and collateral damage often reduces operational flexibility more severely than does adherence to the international law of armed conflict.
Some political pressures push in the same direction as the law of armed conflict, such as when the public demands that civilian injury be minimized. But some political pressures push against international legal duties, such as when the public demands that risk to U.S. forces be minimized. Efforts to reduce vulnerability of U.S. and allied forces without sacrificing military effectiveness may entail greater risks for civilians in the conflict area; efforts to reduce the risk of collateral damage may require placing U.S. and allied forces in greater danger. During NATO's recent Allied Force operations over Kosovo, for instance, the requirement that U.S. ground-attack aircraft stay above 15,000 feet to minimize risks to aircrews from shoulder-fired antiaircraft weapons helped satisfy political pressures to avoid U.S. casualties, but it probably resulted in higher chances (and perhaps more incidents) of misidentification of civilian vehicle traffic as enemy.
Political constraints derive from the need to maintain certain minimum levels of support for military operations among three audiences: the domestic public, the international community (most notably major and regional allies), and the local population in the conflict area. The relative weight of these audiences' opinion on U.S.