I started reading about it  and 20 minutes later feel like I’ve barely skimmed the surface of how hard it must be in modern combat modalities to actually enforce this.
My brother is a JAG and worked on authorization of force issues in Afghanistan. Part of his job was ensuring that rules of engagement were being followed, but I’m looking forward to a more in-depth conversation — if he’s willing to have it — next time we see each other.
People that are not in a regular armed force, do not wear a uniform, hold rank, or report to a superior, may still be taking an active role in combat. Can someone be a farmer by day, and a combatant by night? (a questioned posed by the footnoted article) How long can they be directly targeted as a combatant after a hostile act? What is a hostile act?
Continuous combat function requires lasting integration into an organized armed group acting as the armed forces of a non-State party to an armed conflict. Thus, individuals whose continuous function involves the preparation, execution, or command of acts or operations amounting to direct participation in hostilities are assuming a continuous combat function.
Turns out there are fairly complex guidelines for all of this, and with the amount of intelligence that is collected in the modern battlefield, there’s even a chance to track this down to the individual level.
The continuous combat function designation seems quite narrowly tailored, for example it does not include military, political, or administrative personnel who do not directly participate in hostilities (how convenient for the politicians it is defined this way!). It does not include reservists who are not actively serving.
A civilian who is not serving a continuous combat function in theory can only be subject to direct attack while they are directly participating in hostilities, which seems to include the planning, lead-up, execution, and return from a hostile operation.
Apparently very little of this is explicitly defined under international law, but there is a history and case law which can be used to draw guidelines from.
 - https://casebook.icrc.org/case-study/icrc-interpretive-guida...
It's too complex to understand! too complex to make a judgement.
Let's think about your farmer that tries to fight against the soldiers of a government from the other hemisphere that are killing people within his country- when he isn't trying to get food to survive and feed his family.
Is that actually a complex situation? No. There is a force from a world away killing farmers in Afganistan for reasons that can not be explained except to say 'it's complex'
Aren't they being killed for violent insurrection and terrorist activities?
If another country started launching drone strikes on your country, overthrew your government, and stationed troops in your cities to quell insurgence -- how would you react? Would you accept the status quo or would you fight? Do you think they would also classify you as a terrorist for protecting your home?
I explained it.
Are you saying it's more complex that?
I was pointing out that referring to retaliation against an illegal war of aggression as "violent insurrection" and "terrorist activities" is not an accurate portrayal (unless you'd also refer to US foreign policy as a terrorist activity).
Surely at least some of them can get a Twitter/Facebook campaign going viral saying "Who bombed my grandma?" with photos of shrapnel etc which would implicate a US drone strike.
There seems to be some kind of information firewall - only official journalists embedded with allied forces ever seem to be able to put anything on the bit of the web I see.
This is simply not true. There has been controversy about this topic for many years now, and if you follow German news you would know that Ramstein has been one of the most controversial topic in US-German relationships for decades.
Even the quite popular German band of the same name is known for their outspoken opinions on US foreign politics.
This account seems to have a history of trolling.