As stalemate, uncertainty, and mounting casualties continue in the war in Libya a brief but useful overview of the difficulties in estimating the death toll can be found in 'When Numbers Lie'.
In a previous post we commented on the the bleak prospects for Western forces providing better reporting on casualties caused by their combat activities in Libya. However, with that in mind it is also worth pointing to two archived articles from the British Army Review. The first, from 2009, looks at the use of Civilian Battle Damage Assessment Ratios to monitor military activities with the aim of reducing civilian casualties [BAR, 147]. The second, from 2010, calls for recording "all the dead: not just our own"; recognising the strategic advantages of such an approach [BAR 149].
The UK and other militaries are clearly thinking about the advantages of more open disclosure and better data recording. In conjunction with NGOs and academics important steps are being taken in that direction [Oxford Research Group]. Will this result in actual improvements in casualty reporting and, more importantly, real time adjustment of tactics to minimise casualties? The war in Libya is perhaps the testing ground for this new awareness. As it continues and evolves events may reveal to what extent the thinking revealed by the articles in the British Army Review has actually been main streamed.