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First application of the Dirty War Index: CBDARs in Southern Afghanistan

Posted by MHicks on 03 Mar 2010 at 13:21 GMT

The Dirty War Index (DWI) method has been adapted for use in NATO military environments to monitor civilian, woman and child casualties. This version of the DWI is called a ‘Civilian Battle Damage Assessment Ratio’ (CBDAR), a method for monitoring civilian casualties from military actions that can be used by both military and humanitarian organizations.

The ‘Civilian Battle Damage Assessment Ratio’ (CBDAR) is published in:

Cameron E, Spagat M, Hicks MH (2009) ‘Tracking Civilian Casualties in Combat Zones using Civilian Battle Damage Assessment Ratios’. British Army Review, 147: 87-93.

The British Army Review is not an open journal, but we have been given permission by the journal to post the pdf for this article online for free, public circulation:

The original version of the paper, which may be of interest because it includes all the references, can be found at:

CBDAR calculations are carried out in the same way as DWIs. They share the same basis in international humanitarian law and can provide quantitative indicators of relatively indiscriminate or disproportionate force so that risks to civilians can be identified and reduced. The ‘Civilian Battle Damage Assessment Ratio’ differs from the ‘Dirty War Index’ in its terminology, which was adapted to fit more productively with NATO military psychology and language, and to link directly with the existing military monitoring system of the ‘Battle Damage Assessment’ for ease of application.

Since October 2009, the CBDAR methodology has been used by NATO forces in Southern Afghanistan in order to reduce the possibility of injuring Afghan civilians. The methodology has identified a number of military activities that historically lead to civilian mortality that has led to NATO changing procedures. Reportedly, this has reduced the number of civilian incidents and protected the population from some of the effects of conflict. The authors will publish a subsequent article on the application of CBDAR methodology in 2011 once Ewan returns from Afghanistan with his findings.

No competing interests declared.