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Should we have Rules of Engagement (ROE)?

  • Yes. All troops should adhere to ROE. If not, we are no better than our enemies.

    Votes: 10 20.4%
  • NO. REO's just get our people killed and besides our enemies don't follow rules.

    Votes: 16 32.7%
  • Regular troops should follow ROE and Special Forces should have more flexibility.

    Votes: 23 46.9%
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
gischileu Posted an interesting response in an another forum which deserves a new thread, "Still, terrorists don't follow the Geneva Convention - why should we when fighting them?"

Our troops must fight our enemies using strict ROE. When we capture our enemies we treat them according to rules of the Geneva Convention. Every troop alive knows that our enemies do not play by the same rules. They know that if they are caught in places like the middle east they could be tortured or burned and hung from a bridge. If American soldiers are caught disobeying ROE's, even slightly, there are dire legal consequences back home.

The argument goes that if we do not follow the rules, we sink to the level of our terrorist enemies. Even if good people die as a result of following the ROEs, we maintain a moral high ground over our enemies.

A salient example of this in the SEAL mission documented in the book "Lone Survivor". Soon after they land, they are discovered by two local goat herders, an old man and kid. There is debate about what to do with them, since they will most likely notify the local Taliban. The vote is not to kill them and they are let go. This decisions seals their fate and all but one of them is killed.

Should special forces follow the same ROE's? SF's black-op missions are secret because they are often breaking the law anyway. From local laws all the way up to international law.

What do you think?




 

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Black ops DOES NOT imply that the mission is breaking the law. Further, we are held to higher standards because it's morally right, and dropping those standards leads to a slippery slope of indecency and inhumanity. Stuff like collecting fingers, ears, and other war trophies for example. Not to mention worse behaviors like rape and murder of the civilian population.
 

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NO general ROE. Leave it up to the commanders of the specific mission at hand. They nearly got me killed in Baghdad '03. I got a one way ticket to Walter Reed where I spent the next 3 months hooked up to feeding tubes and breathing machines. Bad guys don't follow any rules, why limit our people to them? I always thought it was stupid to wait until we got shot at before we could return fire.
 

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How's about we just stop going to war every few years? How's about we just let other people do their own fighting until we are really needed. How's about we stop being the world police. We just might find by doing this we end up with fewer people wanting to kill us in the first place.
 

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Politics screws things up.

Simple rule: Enemy shoots at you, you return fire. You see an armed enemy combatant, you engage.
 
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I think a certain amount of ROE is needed, but you are right LeeMajors, it gets pretty ridiculous from the levels I have heard. Make it mission specific. Allow for mistakes. Realize your men are laying it in on the line and that to a certain level, we HAVE to have our men's backs. Full discretion, i am a bystander in that I've never served.
 

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ROE should be followed by everyone. There is no reason to have two sets of standards for behavior. Allowing SF "off the leash" does nothing more than give the bad guys major propaganda points to use against us, and will only hurt us.

All that said, the ROE needs to be one that is both effective, and well thought out. It should be made simple, but still be designed to protect enemy civilians from undue harm. None of this BS "can we use force to protect ourselves without getting in trouble" BS.
 

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I agree that we do need ROE in order to prevent us from becoming animals just like our enemies. That being said, from my experience through four trips to that part of the world, and being "welcomed" by those animals with a disconcerting frequency, the ROE need to be written by someone who understands exactly what the situation on the ground is...not politicians in Washington who have no clue what is really going on. When your hands are tied by those rules to the point where defending your Soldiers and yourself could quite possibly land you in jail, you are no longer able to fight effectively and, in fact, become targets for those who play by no rules whatsoever.
 

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You three make a very good point.
We still need a RoE, but we need to scrap the one we have altogether and create from scratch a new set of RoE.
I am a proponent of getting rid of this "in self-defense only" RoE. It's stupid and probably has killed more American servicemen than the DoD is willing to admit.

The new RoE should be written in levels:
Level 1 is weapons free; when going into a hot combat zone against active and hostile enemy combatants
Level 2 is hold fire until you see an enemy combatant, no waiting for "fire only if fired upon"
Level 3 is hold fire with until fired upon RoE we use today.

As you guys said, let the commanders decide which level to use if there is any ambiguity.

I think a certain amount of ROE is needed, but you are right LeeMajors, it gets pretty ridiculous from the levels I have heard. Make it mission specific. Allow for mistakes. Realize your men are laying it in on the line and that to a certain level, we HAVE to have our men's backs. Full discretion, i am a bystander in that I've never served.
The caveat here is that the ROE's need to be realistic. They are there to ensure we maintain the moral high ground, not to ensure we hamstring our guys to the point that they can't defend themselves.

That crap is happening now unfortunately.
I agree that we do need ROE in order to prevent us from becoming animals just like our enemies. That being said, from my experience through four trips to that part of the world, and being "welcomed" by those animals with a disconcerting frequency, the ROE need to be written by someone who understands exactly what the situation on the ground is...not politicians in Washington who have no clue what is really going on. When your hands are tied by those rules to the point where defending your Soldiers and yourself could quite possibly land you in jail, you are no longer able to fight effectively and, in fact, become targets for those who play by no rules whatsoever.
 

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I think we should follow the ROE as we did on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Radical Islam wants all of us converted or dead. Radical Islam are Nazi's that control the populace through fear. We must get the populace to fight against those Nazi's by giving them a choice. Either they wipe them out or we will! Whenever ISIS or whomever takes control of a town we need to "cleans" the area of the Nazi cauca roaches. We are in WW III but we refuse to fight. It is time to take the gloves off. IMHO
 

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I think we should follow the ROE as we did on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Radical Islam wants all of us converted or dead. Radical Islam are Nazi's that control the populace through fear. We must get the populace to fight against those Nazi's by giving them a choice. Either they wipe them out or we will! Whenever ISIS or whomever takes control of a town we need to "cleans" the area of the Nazi cauca roaches. We are in WW III but we refuse to fight. It is time to take the gloves off. IMHO

Well said!!
 

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So killing a quarter of million people is ok? Reguardless if they are civilians?
In WWII we were planning to invade Japan and they were in the mindset to fight us to the very last woman and child. We were going to lose 10s of thousands of solders in the process. We drop 2 bombs and saved millions of lives on their side. Right now we are losing our solders to fanatics who are killing their own Muslims who are "not Muslim enough" let alone exterminating all Christians. It must be stopped.
 

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So killing a quarter of million people is ok? Reguardless if they are civilians?
Are we killing them (civilians) or are they killing them? If the terrorists wouldn't hide behind schools, churches, hospitals, etc and fight like civilized warriors there would be a lot less 'innocent' casualties. IMHO they learned they could use that cover because we have rules that we obey, and they barely have rules, and those rules we obey pushed them into that cover, or rather, pulled us into shooting into that cover. So our sissy rules that we knew would make it a little harder to win but let us keep the moral high ground actually made it a lot harder to win. And people that behave like animals are not judging us on our moral high ground. That's the press, who are ignorant of what needs to be done, spinning things for the rest of the world to see.
And then we can talk about who really is innocent, or 'just' a civilian. One guy falls, a woman or child picks up his gun, so where does civilian end and militant begin? They've done it to themselves, so should we automatically lose?
Does keeping the moral high ground trump winning the war?
Edit: I guess my point boils down to if they knew we would do what it takes, they would think twice about how they fight us, or fight us at all.
2nd double down edit: To answer your question directly sir, no, killing a quarter million civilians is not ok, being willing to kill them is.
 

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Allowing SF "off the leash" does nothing more than give the bad guys major propaganda points to use against us, and will only hurt us.
From what I remember it wan't pictures of SF that was major propaganda against our involvement. Besides, it was NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox that was the major disseminators of ANTI-USA propaganda.

So killing a quarter of million people is ok? Reguardless if they are civilians?
Many people believe that most terrorist are civilians. Not sure if you know this but the bad guys who boarded airliners on the morning of Sept 11, 2001 WERE NOT WEARING UNIFORMS. Shocking, I know.

NO general ROE. Leave it up to the commanders of the specific mission at hand. They nearly got me killed in Baghdad '03. I got a one way ticket to Walter Reed where I spent the next 3 months hooked up to feeding tubes and breathing machines. Bad guys don't follow any rules, why limit our people to them? I always thought it was stupid to wait until we got shot at before we could return fire.
Thank you for your service to our country. Stories like your is what makes me concerned for our brave combat soldiers in harms way.
 

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How's about we just stop going to war every few years? How's about we just let other people do their own fighting until we are really needed. How's about we stop being the world police. We just might find by doing this we end up with fewer people wanting to kill us in the first place.

While in some cases I might understand where you're coming from...I mean...I don't know...

"Vhat cud pohsiblee go vaang?"

nazi.jpg
 
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I'm just a simple civilian, and am not an authority on this subject. But I think we can all agree on our guys need the rules to allow our military to protect themselves, not be unusually cruel in the process, and not be prosecuted for marginal decisions that must be made in the field. Regarding being the world's police, again I'm not an authority, and this is just my view point...it does seem we get involved a lot overseas...but I think there is a delicate balance that I wish we had more intelligent people making the decisions to maintain. If we never do anything, evil countries would keep going until America was surrounded by communist countries or evil empires, thus insuring our downfall and defeat. I think it's necessary to keep a "balance of power". I would like to see other countries do their own fighting, but evil empires seem to prey on those countries that refuse or are unable to maintain a sufficient military. For pete's sake, if your country is side by side with a tyrannical country, a priority should be a military strong enuff to protect themselves from them. The world and our allies have gotten use to us doing the work for them. They should be compensating us some how when we save their butts. But no amount of money can pay for the lives lost defending them. I would like to see conferences with our allies addressing what they need to have to insure they could fend off attacks by their obvious enemies, and be prepared. This seems to be the most effective way I can think of to maintain a balance of power, keep our troops out of foreign wars as much as possible, and strengthen our relationships with our allies.
 

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Rules of Engagement......The ROE we currently have is funny if it wasn't true.....You will be out on some BS mission and get attacked by small arms fire, mortar's, and RPG's. They keep running and hiding....one minute you see a guy carrying a RPG then he disappears in a karez(underground water tunnels that the US upper management forbids being damaged. And most times before you can return fire it now involves a freaking lawyer's approval....The enemy knows all this and uses it to there advantage. By the time you get permission to engage the guy walking around with a RPG he's already played hot potato and you have to go through the who process again basically. The only way I can see winning a war where the enemy dresses in civilian clothes is to return fire when fired upon. If they want to play where's Waldo then a lot of innocent people die..There WILL be a point that the villagers have had enough and start covertly identifying the enemy because they don't want there buildings, live stock, and families hurt.
 
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