If you are or have ever been in the Armed Forces of the United States you are familiar with this term. If you have not been in the armed forces you probably won’t know the definition of the term. the military has to have some sort of way to control the behavior of people who will be firing weapons during tense situations.
The purpose of Rules of Engagement is to control the response of troops in combat and to protect friendly, civilian, and sometimes enemy troops from harm and danger. the main emphasis is to prevent the killing and injuring of innocent people. Secondary emphasis is to allow friendly troops to defend themselves from real threats and to prevent incidents of friendly fire. one of the worst things that can happen to combat troops is for them to lose confidence in the fire support that they expect to receive from their comrades. Combat soldiers need to know that when they need some emergency help they can rely on the support system that they have in place.
The rules of engagement will be modified to suit the particular combat situation. the force commander sets the general guidelines and individual unit commanders may make minor modifications depending on the tactical situation that they happen to find themselves in.
Rules of Engagement will depend on the level of threat to friendly forces. This includes the likelihood of coming in contact with the enemy and his actions when you do contact him. for example, in a conventional war you know how the enemy will look when you see him. he will have a distinctive uniform and a weapon in his hand. he may be riding on a tank so there is no problem knowing what you have to shoot at. the soldier knows that there is an immediate danger from this person so he or she has no problem with what he or she needs to do.
The biggest problem with rules of engagement happens in a unconventional war. In the case of unconventional was the soldier may not be able to recognize the enemy when he sees him. Unconventional warfare really came into its own during the Vietnam War era. the Viet Cong were not a large enough force to fight the US using conventional tactics so they had to find something which would give them an edge. They began to dress like innocent civilians and to use children to disguise their intentions and to give them an advantage. Sometimes soldiers would shoot first and ask questions later in order to protect themselves. many times innocents were killed which leads to major political problems.
Rules of Engagement have been modified more for the latest action in Afghanistan because of the political situation and public outcry against the accidental killing and wounding of innocents. Rules of Engagement have been tightened severely. the United States letting both friendly and enemy forces the probable time and place of the next attack. Tactically this doesn’t make much sense but it gives the civilian population the chance to take protective measures before the impending attack. It also gives the enemy time to prepare but this is the trade-off that we make. we feel that our troops are protected well enough to offset for the advantages that this gives the enemy. They also have superior technology which the enemy doesn’t have.
Hopefully the new rules of engagement will do exactly what they are designed to do and allow innocents to remove themselves from the future battle zone before the time of battle. hopefully the new rules won’t cause friendly casualties to rise.
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