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Land Forces Academy ,,Nicolae Balcescu Sibiu


Consequences of breaking rules of engagements



The ROE are directives issued by competent military authority that explain the circumstances and limitations under which armed forces initiate and continue combat engagement with opposition encountered. The ROE reflect the requirements of the law of war, operational concerns, and political considerations when military force shifts from peace activities to combat operations and back to the peace phase of an operation. These requirements are the primary means the commander uses to convey legal, political, diplomatic, and military guidance to the military force for handling the crisis in peacetime.


In peace operations, SROE are governed by the principles of necessity and proportionality, the two elements of self-defense. The principle of necessity states that the application of armed force in selfdefense requires that a hostile act occur or a force or terrorist unit exhibit hostile intent. The principle of proportionality states that the force used must be reasonable in intensity, duration, and magnitude, based on all facts known to the commander at the time, to decisively counter the hostile act or hostile intent and to ensure the continued safety of armed forces. To fully appreciate these principles, it is essential to understand their underlying components which are critical factors when confrontations occur and SROE are applied in actual situations. The components of SROE which relate directly to the principles of necessity and proportionality are: Hostile Act: An attack or other use of force by a foreign force or terrorist unit (organization or individual) against the country, the armed forces, and in certain circumstances, citizens, their property, national commercial assets, and other designated non-national forces, foreign nationals and their property. It is also force used directly to preclude or impede the mission and/or duties of national forces, including the recovery of personnel and government property. Hostile Intent: The threat of imminent use of deadly force by a foreign force or terrorist unit (organization or individual) against the country, the armed forces, and in certain circumstances, citizens, their property, national commercial assets, and other designated non-national forces, foreign nationals and their property. In either case, the right exists to use proportional force, including armed force, in self-defense by all necessary means available to deter or neutralize the potential attacker or, if necessary, to destroy the threat. These terms and definitions are useful in instructing soldiers in their further understanding of how to anticipate a hostile act, how to react to the threat before it occurs, and when and how to apply graduated levels of nondeadly force while reserving the use of deadly force if measures of nondeadly force fail to dissuade an antagonist. Deadly force, although not specifically defined in doctrine, is force that

is reasonably likely to result in death or serious bodily harm -- to a soldier or an attacker.

Mere restatement of the core legal principles of proportionality and necessity does not indicate specifically enough the circumstances under which soldiers may fire weapons in national, unit, or individual self-defense. Nor do these principles articulate the myriad restrictions that a commander may impose on a force to serve the non-legal purposes mentioned above. Commands insert numerous types of specific rules into ROE annexes and soldier cards to elaborate further the rules of necessity and proportionality and to dictate precise terms of restrictions that are not derived from law. The following descriptions of types of rules permit us to speak with precision about ROE. Type I - Hostility Criteria. Provide those making decisions whether to fire with a set of objective factors to assist in determining whether a potential assailant exhibits hostile intent and thus clarify whether shots can be fired before receiving fire. Type II - Scale of Force/Challenging Procedure. Specify a graduated show of force that ground troops should use in ambiguous situations before resorting to deadly force. Include such measures as giving a verbal warning, using a riot stick, or perhaps firing an aimed warning shot. May place limits on the pursuit of an attacker. Type III - Protection of Property and Foreign Nationals. Detail what and whom may be defended with force aside from the lives of national soldiers and citizens. Include measures to be taken to prevent crimes in progress or the fleeing of criminals. Type IV - Weapons Control Status/ Alert Conditions. Announce, for air defense assets, a posture for resolving doubts over whether to engage. Announce for units observing alert conditions a series of measures designed to adjust unit readiness for attack to the level of perceived threat. The measures may include some or all of the other functional types of rules.

Type V - Arming Orders. Dictate which soldiers in the force are armed and with what weapons and ammunition. Specify which precise orders given by whom will permit the loading and charging of firearms. Type VI - Approval to Use Weapons Systems. Designate what level commander must approve use of particular weapons systems. Perhaps prohibit use of a weapon entirely. Type VII - Eyes on Target. Require that the object of fire be observed by one or more human or electronic means. Type VIII - Territorial or Geographic Restraints. Create geographic zones or areas into which forces may not fire. May designate a territorialperhaps politicalboundary, beyond which forces may neither fire nor enter except perhaps in hot pursuit of an attacking force. Include tactical control measures that coordinate fire and maneuver by means of graphic illustrations on operations map overlays. Type IX - Restrictions on Manpower. Prescribe numbers and types of soldiers to be committed to a theater or area of operations. Perhaps prohibit use of manpower in politically or diplomatically sensitive personnel assignments requiring allied manning. Type X - Restrictions on Point Targets and Means of Warfare. Prohibit targeting of certain individuals or facilities. May restate basic rules of the law of war for situations in which a hostile force is identified and prolonged armed conflict ensues. The SROE also contain technical definitions of self defense: Self Defense: The SROE do not limit a commander's inherent authority and obligation to use all necessary means available and to take all appropriate action in self-defense of the commander's unit and other U.S. forces in the vicinity. Unit Self Defense: The act of defending elements or personnel of a defined unitas well as U.S. forces in the vicinity thereof against a hostile act or intent. As applied to the soldier on the ground, unit self-defense includes the concept of individual self-defense.

National Self Defense: The act of defending the U.S.; U.S. forces; and in certain circumstances, U.S. citizens and their property, U.S. commercial assets, other designated non-U.S. forces, foreign nationals and their

property, from a hostile act or hostile intent. As a subset of national selfdefense, the act of defending other designated non-U.S. citizens, forces, property, and interests is referred to as collective self-defense. Authority to exercise national self-defense rests with the NCA, but may be delegated under specified circumstances; however, only the NCA may authorize the exercise of collective self-defense. The SROE distinguish between the right and obligation of self-defense which is not limited and use of force for the accomplishment of an assigned mission. Authority to use force in mission accomplishment may be limited in light of political, military or legal concerns, but such limitations have no impact on the commander's right and obligation of self-defense. Once a threat has been declared a hostile force, United States units and individual soldiers may engage without observing a hostile act or demonstration of hostile intent. The basis for engagement becomes status rather than conduct. The authority to declare a force hostile is given only to particular individuals in special circumstances. Appendix A to Enclosure A of the SROE contains guidance on this authority.


By breaking, ignoring or not knowing the basics about rules of engagement, a military, officer, non-comissioned officer or a simple soldier, ignores the value of life itself. It is essential for a soldier to know how to act in various situations, in time of peace, crisis or open conflict and according to a persons status in the situation. To cut a long story short, there can be 2 categories of consequences of breaking the rules of engagement : personal and general. In what concerns the soldier or group that did not respect the laws of war and its rules, the consequences can go up to being relieved of his/their position and/or rank and it could even materialize in a military trial. On the other hand, the actions of one or a few may affect the life of millions. Only one event can trigger actions that have effects on a strategic level, because shooting an innocent civilian for example might be considered only the beginning in a series of similar acts synonymous to war crimes. We must never forget two sacred things that guide us through troubled times of war : HUMANITY and LEGITIMACY.

Bibliography :

Sorin Ioan, Horaiu Neagoie, Military Art, Sibiu, Editura Academiei Forelor Terestre Nicolae Blcescu, 2009 Nicolae Roman, Lucian Ispas, Elemente de Art Militar, Sibiu, Editura Academiei Forelor Terestre Nicolae Blcescu, 2010