On June 26th, KCRW's "To the Point" had a very interesting show discussing the increasing level of concern of troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan that they are being held to a different standard than the pilots of warplanes when it comes to the deaths of innocent civilians, so-called collateral damage. From a legal standpoint, if say Osama Ben Laden is targeted (and apparently Defense Department lawyers are involved in target decisions) but happens to be in an area with many civilians, the deaths of those civilians can be legally justified if he is killed in the process. Grunts on the ground have to make more difficult distinctions under far more difficult circumstances as to whether a given individual may or may not be a legitimate target.
The great irony is that aircraft pilots who have little role in the targeting decision and are rarely asked to make high level decisions, are all college grads, predominantly white, and upper middle class, and reasonably well paid. Those on the ground being asked to make split-second difficult moral decisions while they are under fire, a lower paid high school grads, often minority, and who may be subject to extreme punishment if they make the wrong decision.
And yet we spend millions to protect these pilots with drones, rescue missions, etc. Sounds a little screwy to me.