What offence would an officer be committing if they ordered troops into friendly fire

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
Serious inquiry to support some historical research.

If an officer deliberately ordered soldiers into their own artillery fire, what bits of military law would cover the situation?
  1. Which bits of QRs are they contravening?
  2. What might they be charged with under the Army Act?
  3. In principle this might contravene the Military Covenant. Which bits?
  4. What is the legal authority for convening a board of Inquiry?
 
When / where did this occur?

Do you seek to apply today's UK laws or those of the time and place?
 
Serious inquiry to support some historical research.

If an officer deliberately ordered soldiers into their own artillery fire, what bits of military law would cover the situation?
  1. Which bits of QRs are they contravening?
  2. What might they be charged with under the Army Act?
  3. In principle this might contravene the Military Covenant. Which bits?
  4. What is the legal authority for convening a board of Inquiry?
As @Just_plain_you says, the answers to your questions depend on when this occurred.
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
Suppose it happened now?

There were lots of occasions in the world wars when soldiers were exposed to danger of friendly fire. In those days there was limited technology to capture evidence, and far bigger problems to worry about. I am interested in the legal implications of such an incident in the C21st.
 
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Suppose it happened now?

Incidents like this happened plenty of times in the past, but before the technology existed to capture evidence of what had happened.
Highly unlikely to occur now as a planned course of action due to the technology you mention.
Also highly unlikely as we have changed tactics somewhat since the days of "going over the top, and walking toward the enemy".
Curious to know how you can say that it has happened plenty of times in the past if the technology to capture the evidence didn't exist.


Or are you that old (as your username suggests) that you witnessed it yourself. :p
 
Suppose it happened now?

There were lots of occasions in the world wars when soldiers were exposed to danger of friendly fire. In those days there was limited technology to capture evidence, and far bigger problems to worry about. I am interested in the legal implications of such an incident in the C21st.
if you think about it in a WW1 context they understood that they would lose some troops to friendly artillery fire when advancing behind a creeping barrage but it was deemed acceptable when weighed against not suppressing the enemy and getting onto their position fast enough.

in WW2 you could say the same about gliders, its not friendly fire but there was an understanding that a % would just spank into the ground yet it was deemed acceptable.

in neither of the above scenarios were commanders held to account for those losses because it was understood that it was an acceptable risk and i dont see why the same sorts of principles couldnt apply nowadays.

as others have said though, context is everything. if a commander gets people killed because of a misjudgment then that may be professionally bad for then rather than legally, if they get their people killed through negligence/a failure to execute their duties then it might be another matter.

so basically; no, but yeah.






is there an adult about?
 
My ha'penny worth.

Highly unlikely nowadays as already posted.

Just like Befehl ist Befehl - Wiktionary is no defence, I would argue, in your scenario, that being ordered to (potentially) commit suicide, would be an unlawful order, and tell them where to stick it!

Have you pissed off your OC?
 
Serious inquiry to support some historical research.

If an officer deliberately ordered soldiers into their own artillery fire, what bits of military law would cover the situation?
  1. Which bits of QRs are they contravening?
  2. What might they be charged with under the Army Act?
  3. In principle this might contravene the Military Covenant. Which bits?
  4. What is the legal authority for convening a board of Inquiry?
I believe it comes under the heading "high jinks".
 

Quo_vadis

Clanker
The officer in question might not be committing any offence if, for example, he believes the order is necessary to prevent a greater harm. On the other hand, he might be guilty of murder. It all depends on the circumstances and his intent at the material time.
 

QRK2

LE
My ha'penny worth.

Highly unlikely nowadays as already posted.

Just like Befehl ist Befehl - Wiktionary is no defence, I would argue, in your scenario, that being ordered to (potentially) commit suicide, would be an unlawful order, and tell them where to stick it!

Have you pissed off your OC?
This is still in the pam:

c. Movement. If there is still no reaction by the enemy, as a last resort the section commander should instruct two men or a fire team to get up and double a short distance to different cover. He might do this again if no fire is drawn the first time; a man getting up and dashing ten metres is a very hard target to hit.
 
This is still in the pam:

c. Movement. If there is still no reaction by the enemy, as a last resort the section commander should instruct two men or a fire team to get up and double a short distance to different cover. He might do this again if no fire is drawn the first time; a man getting up and dashing ten metres is a very hard target to hit.
Whilst the above may still be in the Pamphlet.

There is a world of difference in trying to locate an enemies position and the question posed in the OP.
 
I guess in wartime, it could probably fall under the heading of Obstructing Operations (AFA06 s.3). There's probably a whole host of other criminal charges that could be considered under s42 of the AFA06 as well, but as others have said, it's all very dependent on the scenario.

3 Obstructing operations

(1) A person subject to service law commits an offence if– he does an act that is likely to put at risk the success of an action or operation of any of Her Majesty's forces; and he intends to prevent, or is reckless as to whether he prevents, the success of the action or operation.

(2) A person subject to service law commits an offence if– without lawful excuse, he does an act that delays or discourages an action or operation of any of Her Majesty's forces; and he intends to delay or discourage the action or operation.

(3) In this section “act” includes an omission and references to the doing of an act are to be read accordingly.

(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable to any punishment mentioned in the Table in section 164, and any sentence of imprisonment imposed in respect of the offence– if the offence relates to an action or operation against an enemy, may be for life; otherwise, must not exceed ten years.
 
The officer in question might not be committing any offence if, for example, he believes the order is necessary to prevent a greater harm. On the other hand, he might be guilty of murder. It all depends on the circumstances and his intent at the material time.
So to posit an answer to my own contribution, in the case of FPF the aim is to retain the position by setting the higher attrition of the attacking enemy in the open with the lesser attrition of the dug in defenders.
 

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