US ROE

#1
From the NY Times:

The news of the Italian journalist whose car was sprayed by American gunfire on the way to the Baghdad airport stunned the world. But perhaps the worst thing about the wounding of the reporter, Giuliana Sgrena, and the killing of the Italian intelligence agent who was shielding her is that the attack wasn't unique.

On Jan. 18, American soldiers on patrol near Mosul were ordered to stop an oncoming car. After giving some warning shots, six soldiers sprayed the vehicle, firing at least 50 rounds. Chris Hondros, a photographer for Getty Images, said that when the car had come to a stop, he "could hear sobbing and crying coming from the car, children's voices." A car door opened, and six children, one only 8 years old, tumbled into the street, splattered with blood. The parents of four of the children lay dead in the front seat, their bodies riddled with bullets. Back at the base, the company commander told the soldiers that there would be an investigation, but that they had followed the rules of engagement.

Both cases - and presumably hundreds more like them - are a dreadful reminder of the human cost of America's war with Iraq and the ensuing occupation. Iraqi civilians don't have to live only in fear of suicide bombers and masked insurgents. They also must fear being mistaken for an insurgent by jumpy American forces, which are told to shoot first and ask questions later.

American soldiers operate under rules of engagement that give them the authority to open fire whenever they have reason to believe that they or others in their unit may be at risk of suicide bombings or other insurgent attacks. No one can fault an American G.I. at a checkpoint who fires on a car that refuses to stop, because the insurgency has targeted such checkpoints with impunity. But with every additional civilian who is killed by American fire, the human cost rises - both in terms of the lives lost and the psychological damage suffered by the Americans in uniform.

More broadly, these accidents further harm the United States' already shaky image abroad. And they play into the hands of extremists, who use them to vilify America and the American soldier.

It is the responsibility of those at the top of the chain of command - the ones who write these rules of engagement - to make sure that such rules are as close to mistake-proof as possible. That means studying hard the approach to each and every checkpoint put up by the United States military to make sure civilians understand that they should slow down. It means studying tactics used by others, like the British in Northern Ireland and the Israelis in the occupied territories, to gather every shred of useful information out there about how to construct checkpoints in a way that makes their presence obvious to anyone.

None of us want our soldiers killed by suicide bombers who get too close. But neither do we want these soldiers to have to live forever with the knowledge that they killed a heroic intelligence officer, or that they mowed down the parents of four Iraqi children in front of their very eyes, by mistake.
I wonder whether one of the US contributors could outline the ROE for a US solider in Iarq; so that we can get a better understanding of the how and why there are so many inicidents like the ones in article and the general feeling unease that some of us Brits have about the US ROE after looking down the wrong end of US Fire Power.
 
#6
There is an old saying in the US Army there only two types of people in a war zone - the quick and the dead.

Discussing the US ROE on this forum would be a waste of time. Those of you who want to bash the US military will do so. Frankly I am proud of the men and women who serve. They are doing a great job under very difficult conditions.
 
#8
Yeah, well said tomahawk. Except that, as the article quoted at the top of the thread says, the job is made more difficult by the approach taken to such a simple matter as setting up the checkpoints properly. I am assuming that the writer has some experience to base this on - I haven't been out there myself, several mates still serving say that many of the US checkpoints are a bit ill thought out.

Easy enough to do it well - the drivers should have some better warning that they are approaching a VCP than a burst of 5.56 through the windscreen.



hmmmmmm, say half the transatlantic cousins, good point. Perhaps we should go back to 7.62........
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#10
A lot of the UK experience is based on Ulster where, whatever you may think of the opposition there (on all sides) none were stupid enough to be suicidal. Daft, yes sometimes, but not suicidal.

Iraq is different. Instant decisions are needed, and a car coming towards a checkpoint and not stopping will get blown away. I'm pretty sure that the locals understand this - it's been happening there for long enough.

At least if they are blowing themselves up there, they aren't doing it in London or New York, which is I suppose the whole point.
 
#11
OldSnowy said:
A lot of the UK experience is based on Ulster where, whatever you may think of the opposition there (on all sides) none were stupid enough to be suicidal. Daft, yes sometimes, but not suicidal.

Iraq is different. Instant decisions are needed, and a car coming towards a checkpoint and not stopping will get blown away. I'm pretty sure that the locals understand this - it's been happening there for long enough.

At least if they are blowing themselves up there, they aren't doing it in London or New York, which is I suppose the whole point.
It's also not as if these check points are just "popping" up. We had a few engagements with unarmed vehicles in Al Naz. We had the checkpoint up for days, and manned it in a very visible manner. We still had vehicles approach us at a very high rate of speed. When that happens, the NCO running the CP has to make a decision. (Many on the site take issue with the lack of NCO leadership in the US Military. All I can comment on is the Marine Corps, and our NCOs are good to go) Does he order warning shots and have the possible suicide bomber get closer to his men, or does he engage the vehicle. It is horrible that innocent civilians are getting killed. The Marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen over there do not want innocent civilians to die, but they want to have their fellow Marines, etc to go home ALIVE even more.
 
#12
Weapons visible to approaching vehicle from a distance, barrier clearly marked
Warning shot
Shoot vehicle- tires, engine, driver, occupants, in that order
Protect your assets
Warning zones, traffic cones, lights etc, etc, nothing gets closer than 50 meters
Protect your assets

This is all time dependent, if time is crunched, then you must react in a hurry.

Not ROE, just practical thoughts.
 
#13
T6,

Apologies for not caveating my enquiry, I guessed the ROE may have been classified. [I was not encouraging them to be leaked] It may seem like I to bash Septic's. The bottom line is in complex discussion, it is difficult for us Brits to understand US actions without reference to ROE.

The key question for me is irrespective of the rights/wrongs of the IT or BUL incidents or the other incident in this article, lack of clarity on ROEs make it hard to asses US actions fairly. Therefore we have assume the UK and US ROEs are the same or similar. Having watched the run into Baghdad where every moving vehicle received rounds, in the context of the top brass and poli's were telling the Iraqi people to carry on with their normal business. Contradictory information probably lead to the lose of civilian life.
 
#14
In the case of the Sgrena it was the lack of communication that led to her car being shotup. The facts of the Bulgarian case are not known. A US installation is said to be within 150 yards or so of the incident. Polish troops were also operating in the area. The US troops may have though they were trying to support the Bulagarians. Or he got hit by a richochet. No one is certain right now.
 
#15
I do know that Rule Numbah One is self protection. No other ROE has a higher precedence. If the Soldier thinks he/she is in grave danger, they are required to protect themselves and their comrades.

We learned this the hard way in Mogadishu. The ROE was so screwed up that at one point the Marines/Soldiers on the ground were expected to take a bullet so as to minimize 'upsetting' the Wallys.

I damn-near sh*t a brick when I heard that pronouncement. I immediately told my troops to ignore the directive and stay alive.
 
#16
CPTAUSRET said:
Weapons visible to approaching vehicle from a distance, barrier clearly marked
Warning shot
Shoot vehicle- tires, engine, driver, occupants, in that order
Protect your assets
Warning zones, traffic cones, lights etc, etc, nothing gets closer than 50 meters
Protect your assets

This is all time dependent, if time is crunched, then you must react in a hurry.

Not ROE, just practical thoughts.
I agree Capt. Generaly this is what we attempted.
 
#17
tomahawk6 said:
The car bomb or IVB makes operating checkpoints very very dangerous and young soldiers have to make instant decisions.
very true, T 6, however experienced gained in NI, I think makes us a little more qualified to talk of such things, yes , there were one or two regretable incidents even there, but over 30 years not such a bad record, I think whoever decides Ameican policy on anything ROE whatever, should stop being so "arrogant" and admit they can learn from others experiences.
 
#18
SgtUSMC8541 said:
CPTAUSRET said:
Weapons visible to approaching vehicle from a distance, barrier clearly marked
Warning shot
Shoot vehicle- tires, engine, driver, occupants, in that order
Protect your assets
Warning zones, traffic cones, lights etc, etc, nothing gets closer than 50 meters
Protect your assets

This is all time dependent, if time is crunched, then you must react in a hurry.

Not ROE, just practical thoughts.
I agree Capt. Generaly this is what we attempted.

SgtUSMC:

It aint easy, it is seldom surgically precise, but you do your best with the assets available. I commend the "Boots on the ground" in Iraq, it must be immeasurably more difficult with the media constantly in your face, looking to cash in on any incident.
 
#19
tigger_c/s_30 said:
tomahawk6 said:
The car bomb or IVB makes operating checkpoints very very dangerous and young soldiers have to make instant decisions.
very true, T 6, however experienced gained in NI, I think makes us a little more qualified to talk of such things, yes , there were one or two regretable incidents even there, but over 30 years not such a bad record, I think whoever decides Ameican policy on anything ROE whatever, should stop being so "arrogant" and admit they can learn from others experiences.
Even there we toughened things up to somewhere near the practical rules from the Capt US at the time the boyhos were using hostage drivers to deliver the car bomb whilst their families were in peril.
 
#20
tigger_c/s_30 said:
tomahawk6 said:
The car bomb or IVB makes operating checkpoints very very dangerous and young soldiers have to make instant decisions.
very true, T 6, however experienced gained in NI, I think makes us a little more qualified to talk of such things, yes , there were one or two regretable incidents even there, but over 30 years not such a bad record, I think whoever decides Ameican policy on anything ROE whatever, should stop being so "arrogant" and admit they can learn from others experiences.
Tigger, you didnt have suicide bombers in NI and that is the #1 threat in Iraq and IED's being #2. Had the IRA used these same tactics NI would have been far bloodier and your tactics would be alot different.