Law of armed conflict/Geneva Conventions

Discussion in 'Professionally Qualified, RAMC and QARANC' started by Neuroleptic, Jul 15, 2006.

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  1. Wonder if anyone has an opinion on a point that was raised at a recent MATT weekend?

    Someone asked the question why are UK Medical personnel (protected by the Geneva Conventions) generally armed with an infantry assault rifle when they are only allowed to use arms to defend themselves and their patients? Is this within the spirit of the Treaty?

    I seem to remember being told (a long time ago) that Medical personnel were barred from carrying the SLR because of this. Everyone seemed to have pistols or SMGs in those days. It seems to me to have been since the SA80 appeared that this situation changed.

    Anyone cast any light on this?
  2. The SA80 is a personal weapon used by all soldiers within the UK. That is why we can carry it. Also as medical staff can carry the bayonet because it is a tool (Like the leatherman) and not just for plunging into the enemies heart. If the SA80 was classed as a assualt rifle then it would be a different matter. I love being in the medical world. At least I dont get the LSW or get jiffed for GPMG SF any more. The joy!
  3. Seems fair to me to let them carry the SA80. How can you genuinely defend yourself with a pistol when it is only accurate to short distance?
  4. Is the SA80 not classed as an assault rifle? It fires a high velocity round and can be fired full auto (unlike the SLR). If not an assault rifle, what is it? Not trying to be funny here, but I've never heard anyone suggest that it isn't until now.

    If it's not, is this just a MOD money saving fudge to save on the expense of developing or obtaining a wider range of small arms that can be adopted by military personnel dependent on role?
  5. Why should it be a pistol? Why not an SMG which would probably be more practical than either a pistol or a rifle? The loss of the old Lanchester SMG left a bit of a gap in the armoury imho.
  6. Medics can use weapons to defend themselves and patients by the Geneva Convention and it makes no reference as to what weapon system they use! The SMG/SLR argument is pure speculation. The main reason medics were issued smg as opposed to the SLR was it fitted the role better. It was smaller and therefore easier to manage whilst kneeling down or carrying a stretcher (apart from the cocking handle) and was aimed at close quater battle therefore "Defending" yourself.

    The world has changed and imho the Geneva Convention doesnt apply! How are we expected to be Gentlemen when faced with the barbaric terrorists that are our Enemy today!

    Medics as much as the next man today need up to date weapons and training to allow them to operate within the theatre and defend themselves. It would not be unreasonable for them to carry the heavy stuff. The terrorist makes no distinction between combatant/Non-combatant.
  7. An excellent case for an SMG being issued/carried by medical staff, rather than the SA80.

    Whilst those we are dealing with at present haven't signed the Geneva Conventions, we have. That means we need to abide by them. It's unlikely that we would withdraw or cherry pick the wars/conflicts/COINs we applied them to, as we have no idea who we might be fighting next year. Besides, it's unlikely that the Warsaw Pact would have abided by them anyway.

    Besides, there are pragmatic reasons for maintaining the 'Red Cross' distinction, inherent to the UK military. An ambulance without Geneva protection is more often useful to a commander as an ammunition carrier. A medic without an armband is a spare sentry. Medical staff and units would be at risk of becoming general reserves of manpower and transport unrelated to their actual role.

    Probably wandered off the original point here, but I would argue that, in the SLR days, medical staff were given SMGs and pistols because they were more appropriate to their role and responsibilities under the LOAC. That ceased with the introduction of the SA80 because UK Govt PLC didn't order an SMG replacement.

    On pragmatic grounds, I would argue that something like the HK MP5 would provide a good balance between compactness (thus allowing the medic to concentrate on their primary role) and bullet chucking capacity at close to medium range (surely the most likely scenario to occur). There was some talk of a 'compact' version of the SA80 for medics, tank crews etc. Has that died a death?
  8. chrisg46

    chrisg46 LE Book Reviewer

    I was just thinking about the carbine version of the sa80. I have seen it in the press etc, but have yet to see it in any kind of operational appearence. Has it actually been ordered yet?
  9. Carbine version is getting out slowly and has reached op theatres.

    As has been said, the Medic can defend himself and his patients how he does this and with what weaponry is up to him. Technically a Milan could be used in defence (against tanks) by medics and a rapier too (against aircraft) it depends on the situation and obviously their training. In essence a section/plt attack carried out by medics could still be defensive, if say it was used against a MG post that was smashing up an ambulance train, RAP or Field Hospital. If a unit is displaying a red cross/crescent(/diamon(?)) it shouldn't be attacked anyway, so if the medic is using his weapon it is obvious something has gone wrong.

    Medics were issued with SMGs but so were radio ops, drivers and a whole range of other specialists. This was mainly due to the handiness of the SMG rather than any sort of vague law, make believe or other wise, as to the role of the soldier carrying it. It is not the weapon that matters it is how it is used.

    I think the Medics expressed interest in the carbine, so they may be issued in due course to the medics, but it is still an SA 80, just a couple of inches shorter. It will still be issued for convienience rather than law.

    I would personally class the question raised (ref SLR and assault rifles etc) in the MATT lesson as a red herring and tell the question poser to do one.
  10. the carbine is out and about, I fired one at shrienham last week; don't know if its been issued to units etc. yet though
  11. The SLR fired a 7.62 round which is classed as offensive, the SA80 fires a 5.56 which is offensive AND defensive, therefore it can be used by non-combatants. The rules of war state that medical staff may use small arms only to defend themselves or that of their casualty. If medical staff defending themselves realise that the attacking numbers are superior to their own then they are to surrender and are kept as retained personnel not POW’s. The only non-combatants that are issued with pistols are civil defence.
  12. I would say a 5.56mm round is offensive whoever fired it if it hits you!!!

    Where did you get those definitions from worm-on-a-stick?
  13. I would say a 5.56mm round is offensive whoever fired it if it hits you!!!

    Where did you get those definitions from worm-on-a-stick?
  14. I would say a 5.56mm round is offensive whoever fired it if it hits you!!!
  15. Some points on the Geneva Convention

    Each Geneva Convention defines a certain class of protected persons.

    The First Convention applies to wounded and sick, as well as religious and medical personnel.

    The Second Convention extends protections to shipwrecked combatants.

    The Third Convention protects prisoners of war.

    The Four Convention protects civilians in occupied territories.

    The First Protocol protects victims of international conflicts and the Second Protocol extends protections to victims of internal conflicts.

    Medical units

    Fixed establishments and mobile medical units must be protected and respected by all sides in a conflict. Convention I, Article 19

    Medical units may have personnel who carry arms for self-defense or for the maintenance of order; may be protected by a picket, by sentries, or by an escort; may temporarily store small arms and ammunition taken from patients; may be associated with a veterinary unit; and may treat civilians. Convention I, Article 22

    Medical units may not be used to commit acts harmful to the enemy. If they do, they lose their protections under the Geneva Conventions after due warning has been given and a reasonable time limit has passed. Convention I, Article 21

    Prisoners of war, letters home

    Immediately upon capture, or within a week after arrival at a prisoner of war camp, transit camp, or hospital, prisoners have the right to write directly to their families. Convention III, Article 70

    Do you think they know that in Pig Bay Plaza Cuba?

    But since 90% of terrorist haven't signed up to unless they get caught alive its a bit of a one sided convention bit like th US - UK Extradition Act of course some countries have a another view of the convention

    Before I forget

    Medical personnel as prisoners of war

    Medical personnel may not renounce their rights under the Geneva Conventions. Convention I, Article 7