A military operation is about to take place during an ongoing armed conflict; it can be carried out either by aerial bombardment, which is expected to cause c1 enemy civilian deaths, or by using ground troops, which is expected to cause c2 enemy civilian deaths (c2«c1) as well as s deaths among the attacker’s soldiers. Does the principle of proportionality in International Humanitarian Law (IHL) impose a duty on an attacker to expose its soldiers to life-threatening risks in order to minimize or avert risks of collateral damage to enemy civilians? If such a duty exists, what is its justificatory basis, and which considerations determine its scope? In other words, the queries are whether soldiers’ lives matter, and, if they do, which justifications may determine their value. The paper presents an analytic framework, under the current IHL legal structure, following a proportionality analysis. The proposed framework identifies five main positions for addressing the above queries. The five positions are arranged along two “axes”: the value “axis”, which identifies the value assigned to the lives of the attacker’s soldiers in relation to enemy civilian lives; and the justification “axis”, which outlines the justificatory basis for assigning certain values to soldiers’ and civilians’ lives: intrinsic, instrumental or a combination thereof. The paper critically assesses these positions, and favours a position which attributes a value to soldiers’ lives, premised on a justificatory basis which marries intrinsic justifications with concrete instrumental considerations, while avoiding the indeterminacy entailed by expansive instrumental approaches.