Rules of Engagement and Non-Lethal Weapons: A Deadly Combination?
Subject Area - Warfighting
Title: Rules of Engagement and Non-Lethal Weapons: A Deadly Combination?
Author: Major D. B. Hall, United States Marine Corps
Thesis: In the chaotic and volatile world of Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW) can Rules of Engagement (ROE) and Non-lethal weapons (NLWs) co-exist while facilitating force protection and mission accomplishment?
Background: The world at peace is a very dangerous place. Since the end of the Cold War the number of peace operations and humanitarian assistance contingencies that the Marine Corps has been committed to has increased exponentially. In all of these operations Marines are thrust in harm's way armed with a rifle and rules of engagement and told not only to protect themselves and accomplish the mission, but now to prevent as many non-combatant casualties as is possible. There are many inherent problems with the first two requirements alone, but the increasing demand that the committed force assume sole responsibility for the third makes an already extremely difficult mission nearly impossible. In an attempt to respond to the public outcry to limit civilian and non-combatant casualties in these types of operations, the Marine Corps, tasked by the highest levels of our government, has developed and fielded a non-lethal weapon capability that it is forward-deployed. While this sounds like the answer to the problems raised above, it really serves to complicate matters. Looking solely at the ROE issue, the United States military establishment has made significant, positive strides since the tragedy of the Beirut bombing in 1983. This can clearly be seen by comparing the ROE used then and the ROE used in Somalia during UNITAF and UNISOM II. However, with the addition of NLWs to the MOOTW scenario, the same issues that helped contribute to the disaster in 1983 once again rear their ugly heads.
Recommendation: Leaders at all levels of command, from our nation's policy makers through the combatant commanders and the Marine Corps' senior leadership, need to take a hard look at the ROE and NLW issue. In combination, these two components of future peace operations could have potentially hazardous results for the young men and women tasked to employ them. The leadership, mentioned earlier, needs first to look at the types of ROE they are issuing, based on the mission, and how it is being issued. Next they must consider whether or not NLWs are truly the right type of systems to be employed in a MOOTW environment? The answer might be surprising.
ROE ................................................................................................................................... 3
Right of Self-defense, 9
Drafting ROE, 10
Blue Card ROE/White Card ROE dichotomy, 18
Mission Statement/ROE, 17
UNITAF vs UNISOM, 29
ROE Expanded, 30
ROE Restricted, 33
NON-LETHAL WEAPONS................................................................................................ 36
Crowd control useage, 40
Enemy Perceptions, 44
ROE Concerns, 46
Recommendations: Policy makers, 49
Recommendations: JCS and Combatant Commanders, 51
Recommendations: USMC, 52
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Rules of Engagement and Non-Lethal Weapons: A Deadly Combination?
You are about to embark on a mission of great importance to our Nation and the free world. The conditions under which you carry out your vital assignment are, I know, demanding and potentially dangerous. You are tasked to be once again what Marines have been for more than 200 years -- peacemakers.
This excerpt of a message from President Ronald Reagan was broadcast to all members of the 32d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) on 25 August 1982 prior to their insertion into Lebanon to assist with the Syrian and Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) evacuation. However, it is an announcement that any forward-deployed Marine unit can expect to hear in today's highly unstable world. As General Carl E. Mundy Jr. stated in a 1993 article, peace operations are not unfamiliar missions to Marines. In fact, as Mundy stated, the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps have been involved in humanitarian intervention since the inception of American Naval power.
Today, as never before, the prospects of United States Marines being committed to Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW) in the name of humanitarian or other morally just causes has reached a new plateau. From the civil wars in Somalia and Bosnia to the most recent crisis in Zaire, the international aid agencies, aided by the real time media coverage, have strongly and consistently called for military intervention. At face value, this argument makes practical sense, since lives are normally saved by Marines interposing themselves between warring factions and protecting relief workers and supplies. The problem is that in their increasing zeal to advocate a military response, the humanitarian advocates have become the newest interventionalists in the post-cold war era. This position is fraught with political, military, and moral risks that Americans normally ignore until it is too late. While these missions are not new to the Marines, what is new is that as the American public's tolerance for world-wide suffering decreases, so too does their willingness to observe Marines using force in the execution of their duties when it leads to non-combatant casualties. The same moral obligation that leads Americans to demand military force in resolving conflicts and feeding the hungry in MOOTW also, by extension, demands that the military find other means, less-lethal means to execute these missions.
This cry for more humanitarian action by the nation's peace enforcers has lead to the development of what has become known as "Non-lethal Weapons" (NLWs). While the idea behind NLWs appears well founded and fundamentally sound, when their use is tied to the ongoing dilemma of developing appropriate rules of engagement (ROE) today's Marines are faced with a dangerous combination that could lead to disastrous results.
This potentially deadly combination provides the underlying theme for this thesis. Can ROE and NLWs co-exist in peace operations (MOOTW) where minimum casualties are expected, even demanded, along with mission accomplishment and force protection? To answer this question this thesis proposes to undertake a study of the development of ROE from an operator's perspective, as opposed to that of a lawyer. Following the ROE introduction, two historical cases will be analyzed where ROE were significant factors in their apparent failure and success. The first case study will be the 1982-1984 intervention in Beirut where the U.S. Marines served as part of a Multi-National Force (MNF). The second will be an analysis of the 1992-1995 U.S. involvement in Somalia as participants in Unified Task Force Somalia (UNITAF) and United Nations Operations in Somalia (UNOSOM II). Using these two studies as backdrop, a treatment of the NLW issue and their potential hazards will follow. The paper will conclude with several proposals for American leaders, civilian and military alike, to consider when contemplating NLW use in future peace operations.
ROE are defined as directives issued by competent military authority to delineate the circumstance and limitations under which naval, ground, and air forces will initiate and/or continue combat engagement with other forces encountered. ROE has its genesis in the international law of armed conflict (law of war). While the law of war serves as the basis for ROE, they cannot be used as a substitute for the law of war. In fact, ROE are more restrictive than the law of war and serve to emphasize those critical aspects of the law relevant to a specific mission. Besides the law of war there are numerous other factors that make a significant impact on ROE. These elements include domestic law, U.S. policy, diplomacy, and operational concerns. In his 1983 article titled "Rules of Engagement," Captain J. Ashley Roach provided two Venn diagrams to help clarify these two notions. These two diagrams are reproduced in Appendix A. Figure 1 represents the restrictive nature of ROE with repect to the law of war. Figure 2 illustrates the relationship between the factors which impact on the creation of ROE and the ROE themselves. As can be seen, ROE serve to restrict military operations more than domestic or international law.
While their genesis are in the law of war, ROE are a distinctly modern method of constraining the military's use of force with its roots surprisingly no further back than the early 1950s. Since that time three factors have forced American leaders to issue ROE in an attempt to bring military means more in line with desired political ends. First, a growing worldwide inventory of weapons of mass destruction, following the successful U.S.S.R. testing in 1949, precipitated a fear of nuclear holocaust brought on through the escalation of minor incidents and conflicts. This trepidation mandated restraint on the use of force by America's forward deployed forces. Second, technological advances in telecommunications dramatically increased policy makers' ability to influence subordinates' actions. Third, aggressive news media, providing real-time reporting, has brought the actions of the military into America's living rooms. The media's willingness to question the military's use of force and its consequence has raised the sensitivities of the public and served to throw their wrath onto the political figures responsible for controling the military's actions. America's air and sea forces, forward deployed with nuclear capability, developed ROE early in the 1950s to prevent tense encounters from escalating rapidly into nuclear war. Ground forces, however, remained somewhat removed from the nuclear arena and continued to train for conventional conflicts. This conventional mentality led the ground component to develop it's ROE on an "as needed" basis, placing them several years behind their air and naval brethren.
As late as the U.S. intervention in Lebanon in 1958, the term "ROE" had not entered the ground combat element (GCE) vocabulary. Instead, during this operation troops were merely following a "standing order" not to return fire unless they had a clear target. The success of this contingency operation challenged leaders to develop a framework for constraint under crisis conditions which would assure future successes in operations of this nature.
Peace operations in the Dominican Republic during 1965-66 also required restraint on the part of American ground forces. Once the intervention had effectively blocked a perceived communist power grab, the military mission soon gave way to diplomacy and political leaders exercised firm control over troop activities. This intervention helped make the term "ROE" familiar to American ground forces, who assimilated it into their vocabulary as a curse word.
The Vietnam War made tremendous leaps in familiarizing ground forces with ROE. Careful study of regulations, directives, standard operating procedures, annexes, and cards used to impart ROE reveals striking similarities to those produced today. This close resemblance provides a sobering illustration that, despite some twenty additional years of experience with operations short of war, ground units still use the same basic methods in the attempt to bring their operations in line with political and legal constraints.
Despite the noticeable similarities of Vietnam era ROE and those used today there have evolved two significant developments in ROE promulgation. First is the inclusion of the self-defense boilerplate added to all ROE. This development arose in the aftermath of the 1983 bombing of the Marine's headquarters building in Beirut. The result was an admonishment, usually printed in bold capital letters at the top of all ROE cards stating "NOTHING IN THESE RULES LIMITS YOUR RIGHT TO EXERCISE YOUR INHERENT RIGHT OF SELF-DEFENSE." The second development, a clear trend towards joint service ROE, was born of the increased proclivity towards joint operations. This trend resulted in the adoption of a basic analytical framework and set of terms that became known as Peacetime ROE (PROE). The PROE provided definitions of hostile act and hostile intent, stating that one or both of these needed to be present before using force (necessity). The PROE also stated that the reaction must be tailored to the level of the threat (proportionality).
In October 1994, the PROE was replaced by the Joint Chiefs of Staff Standing ROE (JCS SROE). The JCS SROE directs U.S. forces to exercise force consistent with the U.N. Charter and customary international law. It is intended to govern the conduct of the vast majority of U.S. forces operating overseas at all levels of command. ROE specific to certain areas of responsibility (AORs) are drafted by the unified command Commander in Chiefs (CINCs), approved by the JCS, and then included in the JCS SROE as Annexes to the base document.
The SROE are divided into three major sections, termed enclosures to Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction (CJCSI) 3121.01. Enclosure A is the unclassified section that contains the actual SROE. The policies and procedures set forth within this enclosure are always in effect unless they are rescinded or augmented by supplemental ROE for a specific operation. Specifically, the ROE outlined in this enclosure are intended to be used in MOOTW. Included is the inherent right of self-defense and definitions of national self-defense, collective self-defense, elements of self-defense, hostile act, hostile intent, and hostile force. Enclosure B is classified SECRET and describes the procedures by which SROE may be supplemented. It is important to note that supplemental ROE relate only to mission accomplishment, not to self-defense. They never override the right and obligation of self-defense. Enclosure C, also classified SECRET, contains JCS approved AOR specific ROE.
Colonel Hayes Parks, USMCR (Ret.), a noted ROE authority, described the JCS [PROE] as a document to facilitate planning. He states that, "It never was intended to substitute for the judgment of the on-scene commander or the individual soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine." In actuality, the purpose of ROE is much more expansive. ROE are the means by which the National Command Authorities (NCA) and operational commanders regulate the use of armed force in any given military operation. However, they also serve three more specific purposes. Politically, ROE prevent military operations from expanding beyond political objectives, thus upholding Clausewitz's dictum that war is an extension of policy by other means. Militarily, ROE represent limitations the on-scene commander may take in achieving mission accomplishment. The conduct of operations in a tense, chaotic situation such as MOOTW always involves a balance of threat and counterthreat by both sides. In this instance, ROE serve to ensure this balance is not upset, thus resulting in escalation of the crisis. Legally, ROE represent operational guidance, including that required for self-defense, ensuring a commander's actions stay within the bounds of national and international law.
Today there are two categories of ROE that are generally recognized. These categories are the SROE and Wartime ROE (WROE). The underlying principle of the SROE is the general limiting of military actions, including the use of force, to defensive responses to hostile acts or demonstrations of hostile intent in situations short of actual armed conflict. WROE, on the other hand, are used during declared war and do not limit military responses to defensive actions alone. Since this paper focuses mainly on MOOTW, WROE will not be discussed.
SROE are premised on the inherent right of self-defense. It is defined as the authority and obligation of a commander to use all necessary means available to defend and protect his unit, and other nearby U.S. forces, against hostile acts or demonstrations of hostile intent. The commander must employ these measures in concert with the requirements of necessity and proportionality. The JCS SROE defines the right of self-defense in terms of unit and national self-defense. Unit self-defense is that described above. National self-defense pertains to the defense of the U.S., U.S. forces, citizens, property or commercial assets. Collective self-defense is a subset of national self-defense and includes the act of defending other designated non-U.S. forces, personnel, and property. Only the NCA may authorize collective self-defense.
As noted early, the right of self-defense contains the caveats of necessity and proportionality. Necessity exists when a hostile act has been committed or hostile intent has been exhibited. The law of proportionality requires that any necessary use of force be reasonable in intensity, duration, and magnitude, based on all facts known to the commander at the time. ROE also restricts the operational concepts of retaliation and pursuit. In other words, the use of force must be immediate, of short duration, and in the right proportion to the threat. These two qualifiers on the use of force, whether lethal or non-lethal, are truly the crux of the ROE debate.
The conditions under which the mandates for necessity are met differ from operation to operation and must be explained in each set of ROE issued. The same is true for proportionality or what is considered the correct level of response. If ROE are worded such that Marines feel restricted or confused about appropriate force application, they tend to avoid using the force necessary to protect themselves. Further, in a nation that abhors American casualties, public support for a foreign deployment will fade quickly as friendly casualties mount. Conversely, Marines who interpret the ROE too loosely and fire their weapons too readily erect obstacles to tactical and strategic success as well as undermine the moral high ground the intervening force assumes as a benefactor to a beleaguered state.
It is because of this delicate balance between the dilemma of "shoot -- don't shoot" that ROE must be carefully crafted for each operation. One of the first problems in the drafting of ROE is the misperception that they are the lawyer's domain. Commanders tasked with executing an assigned mission have the right and obligation to review his higher commander's published ROE to ensure applicability and suitability for his assigned mission. The commander can then make recommendations for changes through the chain of command. More often than not a commander faced with this action will turn to his Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) and tell him to review the existing ROE or write a set of appropriate ROE. This is wrong! Commanders must understand that ROE belong to him. ROE are the commander's tools, used in accomplishing his assigned mission. The SJA is an advisor and should work in concert with the commander and his operations and intelligence officers. The SJA's role is to ensure that the ROE the commander develops fit within the construct of national and international law and the other determinants described above. It is important to remember that ROE should support the mission not vice versa.
The problem with the current practice of SJA's writing ROE is that they tend to be written in legalese. This "legislative" model of ROE development produces a mind set that ROE are laws from on high that must be adhered to in the strictest sense. This mind set leads the servicemen implementing the ROE to err on the side of caution, interpreting ROE as exceedingly restrictive. Legalistic and ambiguous language is confusing and frustrating to the young Privates First Class and Lance Corporals who have to implement them. On a moonless night, in a pitch black alley or side street, these young Marines do not have lawyers standing nearby to answer their questions about whether or not they have the right to shoot. Therefore, it is important that ROE are written with words found in the common vocabulary so that they are easily understood. This is imperative because an inappropriate interpretation or negligent application of ROE can have dire results. Ultimately, ROE are intended for the individual service member, not lawyers. Incorporating this notion in the writing of ROE will go a long way towards achieving the desireable balance between political objectives and friendly casualties.
Equally important in drafting ROE is the notion that tactics drive ROE and not the other way around. Therefore, prescribing tactics in ROE is wrong and needs to be avoided. Doing so denies the using force flexibility. As Captain Roach tactfully put it in his paper, "ROE should never be rudder orders"; they should never iterate specifics about how a commander should employ his unit. They should be declarative (written as actions that define conditions and limits) but never prescriptive.
With this limited historical background and basic understanding of ROE it is time to turn to two case studies that will help illustrate the apparent failures and successes of ROE in operations short of war.
On 6 June 1982, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) executed a lightning quick invasion into southern Lebanon. At first it seemed that the Israeli objective was to secure a 40 kilometer artillery buffer zone in southern Lebanon to protect northern Israel against PLO shelling. This, however, was not the case and within three days they had reached the outskirts of the capital city of Beirut. By 14 June, the IDF had linked up with the Christian Lebanese Forces in East Beirut. The combined objective of these two forces was the destruction of PLO forces in Lebanon, thereby neutralizing PLO political and military influence in the region.
On 2 July, the IDF instituted a citywide blockade of Beirut. This action initiated a barrage of diplomatic activity aimed at preventing a full-scale battle that would destroy the city. In consonance with an agreement coordinated by Ambassador Philip Habib, the 32d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU), as part of a Multinational Force (MNF), successfully evacuated 15,000 armed Palestinians and Syrians. By 10 September 1982, all MNF forces had been withdrawn. At this stage, the 32d MAU had successfully completed its rather straightforward "peacekeeping" mission in what became known as MNF I.
On 14 September 1982, the assassination of President-Elect Bashir Gemayel, coupled with the IDF occupation of West Beirut and the 16-18 September massacre of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, resulted in reconstituting the MNF. On 29 September, the 32d MAU re-entered Lebanon at the request of the new Lebanese President Amin Gemayel to begin MNF II.
The Marines entered a country about the size of Connecticut that contained three million people, 17 officially recognized religious sects, two foreign armies of occupation, three other national contingents of peacekeeping forces besides themselves, and some two dozen extralegal militias. Over 10,000 people had been killed during the preceding eight years. Lebanon was a country where criminals involved in indiscriminate killing and every other type of conceivable illicite activity, issue political manifestos and hold press conferences. The Marines found themselves in a lawless quagmire where there is no shortage of endemic surrogates willing to carry out hostile acts against the U.S..
To couple this extreme environment with the anarchy of an unsupported government and the high anxiety following the assassination and massacre and call it peacekeeping is stretching the limits of that definition. The Marines were not going into a benign environment at the request of all parties involved and there was no peace to keep. A more accurate and appropriate definition of the Marines' mission would have been that of peace enforcement. The difference in mission definition is significant because peace enforcement missions have a much more robust set of ROE than does the primarily defensive mission of peacekeeping. Nonetheless, the Marines were interposed between the IDF and the populated areas of Beirut as peacekeepers and directed to take up positions at the Beirut International Airport (BIA). The JCS instructions to the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) explicitly stated that the U.S. forces would not engage in "combat." It went on to say that, in accordance with USEUCOM PROE, the U.S. forces were directed to exercise restraint and to use force only in self-defense so not to escalate any conflict, endanger innocent lives, or to become enmeshed in factional infighting. In essence, the military mission of the Marines in Beirut boiled down to a symbolic "presence." Mandate compliance was assured by USEUCOM issuing highly restrictive ROE.
Thus, the United States Marines embarked on a mission in which the ROE forbade the use of force unless a hostile act was committed. These ROE contained language such as::
When on the post, mobile or foot patrol, keep loaded magazine in weapon, bolt closed, weapon on safe, no round in the chamber.
Do not chamber a round unless told to do so by a commissioned officer unless you must act in immediate self-defense where deadly force is authorized.
The restrictive language of the ROE led the Marines to believe that they had to take the first hit before force was authorized. These restrictive ROE, started on 28 September 1982 and remained in effect for three MAUs (32d, 24th, and 22d) that deployed to Lebanon. This set of ROE became known as the "White Card ROE" because of the white paper used in making the ROE pocket cards.
As pointed out earlier, the Marines erroneously assumed they were going into a permissive, or at least benign, environment. This error soon became apparent as the situation visibly changed in front of the Marine's eyes. Between October of 1982 and February 1983, many previously absent young men began reappearing in Beirut -- it was assumed that they were members of the Syrian and PLO forces that had been evacuated just the preceding month. The Marine presence went from tacit acceptance to "hard" stares, taunts, verbal (slang) assaults, the appearance of Khomeni posters everywhere, and rock throwing incidents. Since no response was authorized, the marvelous restraint shown by the Marines was interpreted as a lack of resolve by the factional elements which encouraged them to up the ante.
Complicating the rising Muslim sensitivities was the commencement of military training of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) by the USMNF. This training, conducted by the Marines of Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 3/8, 24th MAU, began in November 1982. The decision to broaden the USMNF's mandate was made by the NSC staff over the strenuous objections of commanders on the ground in Beirut and in apparent disregard of the necessity of preventing the force from becoming enmeshed in the ongoing conflict. This phenomenon, commonly referred to as "mission creep", was the beginning of the end of the USMNF mission. In the eyes of the factional militias, the USMNF was now exhibiting pro-Israeli, pro-Phalange, and anti-Muslim tendencies. The Marines, by becoming an active participant, sacrificed their impartiality and the moral high ground. They were now viewed simply as another militia that had to be dealt with. The consequence of this neutrality breach was to become readily apparent as the USMNF's stay in Lebanon dragged on.
On March 16, 1983, Marines routinely patrolling a Palestinian neighborhood in West Beirut were ambushed in a grenade hurling engagement. Five Marines were wounded. All hands immediately locked and loaded their weapons. Despite the heightened tensions, the ROE had not been changed. A month later, a young Marine PFC was the first to return fire after being fired on. On 18 April, amid the press conference covering this incident, a truck bomb destroyed the American Embassy in Beirut, killing over 60 people (including 17 Americans). From this point on, the number of incidents where the USMNF was on the receiving end of hostile fires began to increase. For instance, on 5 May a helicopter carrying the MAU Commander was hit by small arms fire. On the next day five rounds traced to a Druse artillery battery in the mountains overlooking the BIA plunged into the water near one the U.S. transports that was stationed in the waters just off BIA. Two more rounds impacted on the beach. Despite the increased danger to the Marines and the willingness of the militias to up the ante on the Marines' presence, the only incident that caused a stated change in the Marines ROE was the embassy bombing. However, even these minor changes were localized around the new embassy.
Following the 18 April terrorist bombing of the U.S. Embassy, embassy functions were relocated, at the invitation of the British government, to the Duraffourd Building, which housed the British Embassy and the U.S. Ambassador's residence. It was determined that these vital facilities needed a force to perform external security missions. The Marines at BIA were now tasked to expand their already thin defensive perimeter to include the Duraffourd Building. After being assigned this new mission the local commanders requested a specific change in ROE to counter the perceived vehicular and pedestrian terrorist threat to these facilities. After considering the requested change, USCINCEUR promulgated a set of ROE specifically for that security force. This new set of ROE expanded the definition of hostile act to include attempts by vehicles or pedestrians to breach established barricades or roadblocks. The new ROE was printed on a "blue" card and distributed to the forces charged with security at the Duraffourd Building. Thus, in the first week of May 1983 the blue card -- white card dichotomy began which the Long Commission contends contributed to the 23 October 1983 disaster.
The white card ROE -- issued on 28 September 1982 -- remained in effect for the Marines providing security at BIA or patrolling in West Beirut. The blue card, however, was only to be used by those Marines providing security at the Duraffourd Building. The perception was that there were two distinct ROE which was OK because "it was more dangerous to stand duty up at the embassy than at the airport." Thus, from May - October 1983 there were two "formal" sets of ROE in effect for the Marines, however, this was not the end of the confusion. Appendix B provides a copy of each set of ROE.
The 24th MAU returned to Lebanon on 30 May 1983 under the command of Colonel Timothy J. Geraghty. A spate of so-called accidental discharges shortly after their arrival at BIA brought firm, definitive orders from stateside that suggested all but a select few Marines at BIA should remove the rounds from their weapons. In response to this guidance from the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Geraghty and his BLT Commander, LtCol. H.L. Gerlach, set about changing the guard orders in the headquarters area. The interior guard mission at the BLT HQ was separate from the overall presence mission. The guard posts were divided and designated as either interior or exterior posts. Interior post guard rules required the sentry's magazines to be in the magazine pouch. Exterior posts had their magazines in the weapon, no round in the chamber, and weapon on safe -- standard white card ROE. To combat the accidental discharges, Geraghty and Gerlach changed two guard posts, in name only, from external to internal posts, thus taking the magazine out of the weapon. Marine units rotated between the numerous posts and were exposed to three different sets ROE regarding the use of force. An analysis of the situation in the summer of 1983 clearly suggests that the Marines had every reason to be confused by the multiple ROE.
Further confounding the situation, the world around the Marine's little security enclave at BIA began to degenerate even more, and was now encroaching on their territory. Direct, flagrant attacks against the Marines and the airport were increasing in frequency and duration as summer progressed into fall. Twenty-two Marines were killed or wounded between 30 May and 23 October and still the ROE for the majority of the USMNF did not change from the original issued in September 1982. This was in spite of several requests from Geraghty to change them.
Opposition Moslem militiamen were aware of the restraints on the Marines and brazenly manipulated the rules. Knowing that the Marines were forbidden from firing at gunmen who were not actually employing their weapons, the militiamen freely walked past the Marines with their weapons slung over their shoulders. They would then enter buildings or bunkers fronting the Marine's positions and fire on the Marines until they either ran out of ammunition or got bored. They would then sling their weapons and walk unmolested back to their base of operations, often mocking the Marines as they went. This restraint by the Marines, which stemmed from their restrictive ROE, gave the initiative to the other side and made the Marines a "soft target." As a result, the U.S. ceased to be a serious player in Lebanese internal affairs and the objective of the Moslem players became the neutralization of the MAU. In fact, intelligence reports indicated that the forces opposing the Marines believed that public pressure on the home front could be brought to a crescendo if they could kill or wound one or two soldiers or Marines each day; resulting in the eventual withdrawal of all MNF forces.
As the situation continued to deteriorate, and the militias became even more emboldened, there evolved a situation that threatened to make the Marines' position even more precarious. Acoording to an arrangement made through diplomatic channels, the IDF agreed to abandon their positions in the Suq Al Gharb in the Shouf Mountains. These positions looked down on BIA and all of Beirut. If factional militias gained control of these heights it would make the Marine's position untenable. In an effort largely aimed at averting this potential disaster, President Reagan approved, on 10 September 1983, National Security Decision Directive 103 (NSDD 103). This executive order directed that the Marines assume a more "aggressive self-defense" posture in their actions in Beirut. Most important of all was an addendum to the NSDD that made an explicit determination that the fall of the Suq Al Gharb would endanger the Marines and other U.S. personnel. Thus, LAF defense of this area was deemed vital to the self-defense of the USMNF. Through this decree, the NSC made it permissible under the existing ROE for U.S. forces to aid the LAF in gaining and retaining the Suq Al Gharb thereby negating the prior meaning of the "neutral, peacekeeping, presence, and multinational force," as well as distorting the USMNF ROE beyond recognition.
On 19 September 1983, U.S. warships fired 368 rounds into the Suq Al Gharb in support of an LAF offensive to gain control of this region. Amazingly, in White House press conferences on 19 and 20 September, White House Press Secretary Larry Speakes, State Department Spokesman John Hughes, and President Reagan himself insisted that neither the USMNF nor the ROE had been changed. If the training of the LAF that began in November 1982 signaled the beginning of the end of the USMNF mission, then the direct support on 19 September 1983 put the first nail in its coffin. The earlier concerns the opposition militias had about the USMNF's neutrality were, in their minds, confirmed in September of 1983. They now became more determined to do something about it.
Just over a month later, on 23 October 1983, a truck bomb crumbled the BLT Headquarters killing 241 Marine and sailors. Four months later, the USMNF was backloaded on amphibious shipping and the "presence" mission in Beirut ended. What had begun as an interpositional mission with restrictive ROE designed to maintain the force's neutrality ended with the USMNF directly supporting the LAF and operating under confused and twisted ROE that, at least in practice, did not resemble those initially issued. Thus, mission creep and inappropriate ROE must be considered the primary reasons for this mission's failure.
Much has been learned from the travesty of the Marine intervention in Beirut. The Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 helped clarify and streamline the operational chain of command and the "Weinberger Doctrine" helped establish guidelines for force commitment in these types of operations. Additionally, ROE generation underwent a review. The result was a more robust set of ROE that stressed the necessity to protect the force in order to achieve mission accomplishment. A decade after the tragedy of Beirut, operations in Somalia put these lessons to the test.
As with Beirut, Somalia was in the midst of a devastating civil war when the Marines were inserted. Before 1960, Somalia was ruled jointly by Italy and Great Britain. A military coup in October 1969, put General Mohammed Siad Barre, commander of the army, in power. Over the years, his military regime became progressively corrupt alienating most Somalis. In January 1991, Barre was overthrown by a rebellion begun in 1988 in northern Somalia. A number of Somali insurgent factions drove Barre from Mogadishu and the United Somali Congress (USC) retained control of the capital. Following Barre's flight, the victorious factions elected Ali Mahdi Mohammed as President of Somalia. However, as in Beirut, there was insufficient support for the new regime. In addition, other parts of the country were dominated by other separate insurgent groups. When the Marines were inserted there were at least 16 separate, clan-based factions operating throughout the country.
Starting in April 1991, fighting between various groups plunged Mogadishu, and other parts of Soamlia, into chaos. Mogadishu, like Beirut, was devastated. Fierce fighting between rival factions of the USC left much of the capital in ruins and many Somalis dead. In addition, Mogadishu was also plagued by armed gangs. These gangs, associated either with rival Somali factions or operating independently, not only stole food from relief agencies but also contributed to the general disorder in the city. The civil war, utter chaos, and factional fighting in Mogadishu led to wide spread famine. It was at this point that the plea for assistance by the international aid agencies, bolstered by real-time film footage of starving children, was answered by the U.N. A decision was made to deploy large-scale forces to Somalia to assist with famine relief and to provide security.
As with Beirut ten years earlier, the Marines were preparing to deploy into a very confused, chaotic, and potentially hazardous environment. Devoid of competent central government, Somalia had become a lawless frontier. The only authority in the country was wielded by the armed gunmen, dubbed "militiamen," who supported the dominant clans. That authority was derived not from law, but from influence, bribery, arms possession, intimidation, and outright violence, including murder. The situation had deteriorated so much that people were starving because the shattered infrastructure was unable to provide food equitably. Armed clansmen, roving gangs, and thugs commandeered food from warehouses and convoys, then sold it at extortionary prices or hoarded it to be used later as an instrument of power. By some estimates more than 300,000 Somalis had died of starvation by mid-1992 and millions more were at risk.
Operation Restore Hope, the humanitarian relief effort in Somalia that began 9 December 1992, was conducted in that gray area between peace and war -- an environment of political anarchy, with no Somali government or normal state institutions, and an unprecedented UN Chapter VII mandate authorizing peace enforcement by all means necessary. Robert B. Oakley, the Presidential Special Envoy to Somalia, described this operation as an "unprecedented humanitarian peace enforcement mission" that neither the Secretary General of the U.N., nor his Security Council, was prepared to handle. The lessons of Beirut were loud and clear, provide a clear mission statement and sufficient ROE to achieve accomplishment of that mission while providing for force protection. Also essential was the importance of not taking sides. Therefore, the initial operational requirement was for a clear mission statement. Great care was taken to develop an approved, well-defined mission with attainable, measurable objectives. The next requirement was a set of ROE tailored to allow the on-scene commander maximum flexibility in determining what constituted a threat and what response was appropriate, including first use of deadly force.
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), the unified command responsible for this area of the world, was given control of the U.S. led operation. Accordingly, CENTCOM promulgated an initial ROE for Operation Restore Hope. These ROE, referred to as UNITAF ROE since they were employed by Unified Task Force (UNITAF) Somalia, were in effect from 9 December 1992 to 4 May 1993 when control was turned over to the U.N. However, this was not the only set of ROE issued to the 15th MEU(SOC), the forward-deployed Marine unit tasked with executing the initial phases of Restore Hope. Appendix C contains a sample UNITAF ROE card.
The MEU also received, from the JCS, a very liberal set of ROE. These ROE clearly reflected the character of the JCS Chairman, General Colin Powell, and his belief that a committed force should use whatever force, to include overwhelming force, necessary to achieve its mission and protect the force. While two sets of ROE is eerily reminiscent of Beirut, and also representative of the inherent problems in ROE generation, it must be noted that, unlike Beirut, these ROE were very liberal, allowing the on-scenc commander maximum flexibility in interpreting what force was necessary. This was an obvious advance in ROE thinking. CENTCOM's ROE were more conservative than the JCS ROE. This was appropriate according to CJCSI 3121.01, which allows a subordinate commander to make ROE more restrictive, but never less so. However, even CENTCOM's ROE were very different from the restrictive nature of USEUCOM's ROE in Beirut; another step forward.
The plethora of weapons in Somalia and the presence of the much maligned "technical" created the need for the UNITAF ROE to use innovative language, of a nature never used before. This was done to give commanders the flexibility to accomplish the mission and protect the force.
"Crew served weapons are considered a threat to UNITAF forces and the relief effort whether or not the crew demonstrates hostile intent. Commanders are authorized to use all necessary force to confiscate and demilitarize crew served weapons in their area of operations. . . Within areas under the control of UNITAF Forces, armed individuals may be considered a threat to UNITAF and the relief effort whether or not the individual demonstrates hostile intent. Commanders are authorized to use all necessary force to disarm individuals in areas under the control of UNITAF. Absent a hostile or criminal act, individuals and associated vehicles will be released after any weapons are removed/demilitarized.
It is important to note the difference in language used concerning crew served weapons (also read "technicals") and armed individuals. Because of the abundance of weapons on the streets and the fact that they were not all intended for hostile or criminal use, this language ("may" as compared to "are") was designed to provide flexibility when dealing with armed individuals who did not pose the same threat as crew served weapons. As can be seen, these ROE were carefully crafted to allow local commanders wide latitude. This is in stark contrast to the directive and restrictive nature of the Beirut ROE. It appears that the U.S. military had learned a valuable lesson from that earlier operation.
On 4 May 1993, UNITAF Somalia terminated operations and responsibility was passed to United Nations Operations in Somalia II (UNOSOM II). This transition marked the successful end of Restore Hope, with its narrowly defined mission. The transition to U.N. control signaled the start of a much bolder and broader mission intended to tackle underlying social, political, and economic problems. It was designed to put Somalia back on its feet as a nation. In short, it was the start of an attempt at nation-building. Along with a mission change, UNOSOM II was soon employing different ROE.
UNOSOM II began its operation by initially adopting UNITAF ROE, but its greatly expanded mission would severely test its personnel and the guidelines for the use of force in Somalia. Perhaps the fatal flaw in the concept behind UNOSOM II's mission was the idea that peace could be imposed at gunpoint on a reluctant, independent, confrontational, and notoriously proud people. Another underlying fault was the notion that the social fabric of Somalia could be rewoven at the direction of outsiders.
Soon after UNITAF departed, conditions in Mogadishu began to deteriorate. The Somalis began to test the resolve of the UNOSOM forces and confrontations increased. Lieutentant General Bir of Turkey, the U.N. appointed commander of UNOSOM II, responded to the new threat by issuing "Frag Order 39" at the end of May 1993. This order contained the following language:
"Organized, armed militias, technicals, and other crew served weapons are considered a threat to UNOSOM Forces and may be engaged without provocation." (Emphasis added)
This was tantamount to declaring the named personnel and weapon systems as "hostile forces," a classification usually reserved for WROE. This order greatly expanded the ability of UNOSOM personnel to apply deadly force and was a change from the UNITAF ROE in that it was now a stated capability, rather than an interpreted one.
On 5 June 1993, shortly after the issuance of Frag Order 39, UNOSOM forces made a forced entry into a weapons storage facility controlled by Aideed. Two of Aideed's soldiers were killed in the confrontation. Shortly thereafter, 27 Pakistani peacekeepers were killed by Aideed supporters. The U.N. Security Council's response to the "premeditated armed attacks" on UNOSOM peacekeepers was swift and extraordinarily firm. The Security Council called for action to bring the responsible parties to justice which resulted in declaring Aideed an outlaw and putting a price on his head. The U.S. initially supported this decision and a series of special operations were launched to capture Aideed. Suddenly, the U.S. was taking sides, something they had scrupulously avoided during the UNITAF operation. As with the USMNF decision to train the LAF in Beirut, this signaled the beginning of the end of U.S. involvement in Somalia, and the killing of 18 U.S. Army Rangers on 5 October 1983 put the first nail in this coffin. It also caused President Clinton to abandon pursuit of Aideed and announce a full U.S. pull-out by the end of March 1994. However, it was not the end of the ROE dilemma.
When the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in Somalia in late October 1993, they were informed that they would be operating under the UNOSOM II ROE, to include Frag Order 39. This was a conscious decision made in CENTCOM to combat the ever worsening situation in Somalia. The situation in Mogadishu deteriorated to the point that it resembled pre-UNITAF conditions. Vast amounts of the city once patrolled regularly by the Marines and soldiers of UNITAF were now off limits to UNOSOM forces. These changing conditions caused U.S. commanders to focus primarily on force protection. As with the Marines in Beirut, UNOSOM forces, including their U.S. protectors, were essentially confined to their strong points and compounds. Similarly, the Somali militiamen, as did their Muslim counterparts a decade earlier, perceived a new weakness and took advantage of it by periodically firing into these compounds, including occasional mortar rounds. As in Beirut, the Marine sniper was the weapon of choice and assumed a great deal of the responsibility for force protection. Operating within the parameters of the UNOSOM ROE, snipers began to engage Somalis armed with crew served weapons, whether or not they demonstrated a hostile act or showed hostile intent. Word spread fast in Mogadishu that if you were spotted with a crew served weapon you would be shot. This proved highly effective in keeping most of the weapons off the street, thereby reducing the threat to the UNOSOM and U.S. forces. However, this effective self-defense mechanism would not last long.
On 9 January 1994, Marine snipers engaged a pickup truck with a Somali in the bed holding a machine gun on its roof. The target was clearly within the limits of the ROE and the snipers fired two shots. One shot hit and killed the gunman. Shortly after the shooting, a group of Somalis approached a U.S. checkpoint and claimed a pregnant woman had been killed by a U.S. sniper. The news media got hold of the story and on 10 January Associated Press headlines read, "U.S. snipers kill pregnant Somali woman." The press focused on rules of engagement that would allow such a thing to happen.
The Marine snipers in this incident were acting within the ROE and had taken the proper precautions to avoid collateral injury (a sniper and his rifle is a discriminate weapon) and were therefore not culpable. However, the press' argument evoked the subsequent warning stamped on all ROE cards to TAKE ALL MEASURES TO MINIMIZE COLLATERAL CIVILIAN CASUALTIES. This rebuke is one that Colonel Hayes Parks feels should be purged from ROE because it incorrectly implies that U.S. forces would not take reasonable measures to minimize collateral civilian casualties, consistent with mission accomplishment and force protection. Nonetheless, within three days the sniper ROE would change.
On 12 January 1994, a USCENTCOM message was issued which applied only to snipers and essentially returned them to PROE. Word of the new change spread fast and within days a dramatic change took place in the streets of Mogadishu. Machine guns and RPGs were brandished openly as the local populace became aware of the new restraint the forces were required to exercise.
This change in ROE had a number of other, unintended consequences. Since the restriction applied only to U.S. snipers, now U.S. forces were faced with a ROE dichotomy similar to the one in Beirut in 1983. Suddenly soldiers and Marines, standing side by side, had different ROE depending on their duty status. U.S. forces who were not acting as snipers could continue to engage targets under the UNOSOM II ROE, whereas snipers, previously charged with the primary responsibility of force protection, could not. This put the snipers in a potentially precarious situation, one which was neither necessary nor warranted. However, it did serve to alleviate political and public pressure. Fortunately there were no friendly casualties that resulted from these disparate ROE.
By the end of 1994, more than 130 peacekeepers had been killed in Somalia and more than two billion dollars spent on the failed U.N. mission. As a result, the U.N. ordered the withdrawal of the remaining peacekeepers by the end of March 1995. Lieutenant General Anthony Zinni, I MEF Commander, and the Marines of the 13th MEU(SOC) were tasked with covering the withdrawal of the U.N. forces.
This deployment was a first in that General Zinni requested and received authority to employ NLWs. General Zinni felt that this operational capability was necessary because the Marines would likely face large bands of looters and thieves competing for the booty the U.N. forces left behind. He was concerned about a means to fill a perceived void between verbal warnings and the use of lethal force when dealing with these criminal elements.
Planners had four months to prepare a workable set of ROE for United Shield which was in sharp contrast to the two weeks allocated for Operation Restore Hope. Additionally, on 1 October 1994 the new JCS SROE become effective. This tool helped to clarify and simplify the United Shield ROE process. Nevertheless, the final ROE was not received by the Marines until four days before landing. The reason for this delay was over-legislation on the use of the recently authorized NLWs. The ROE issued by CENTCOM and approved by CJCS, contained terms that were not always clear or concise. As a result, the 13th MEU issued their own ROE cards to conform with existing training practices within the MEU. This resulted in two ROE cards, one that summarized the ROE for the operation, and one that reflected the standing ROE training model used by the 13th MEU. While this initially elicits ominous visions of the White Card/Blue Card controversy of Beirut, closer examination of both cards shows that the 13th MEUs ROE cards were more conservative than those issued by CENTCOM. Appendix D provides a copy of both sets of ROE.
As can be seen from the two case studies presented in this paper, the U.S. has made tremendous progress in the generation and application of ROE in the decade between Beirut and Somalia. The ROE used throughout UNITAF (Restore Hope) and UNOSOM II were remarkably flexible and allowed the commander wide latitude in their interpretation and application with respect to mission accomplishment and force protection. This is in sharp contrast to the ROE used during MNF II in Beirut. However, the deployment of NLWs during United Shield, with their accompanying restrictive ROE, raises several important issues concerning ROE and carries ominous undertones reminiscent of those MNF II ROE. These ROE issues provide the underpinnings for the NLW discussion that follows.
"I will . . . direct the Office of the Secretary of Defense to accelerate efforts to field non-chemical, non-lethal, alternatives to riot control agents for use in situations where combatants and non-combatants are intermingled."
This statement by President Clinton clearly sets the course for the Department of Defense (DOD) in developing NLWs. It also reflects the American Judeo-Christian ethic that detests the bloodletting of our soldiers and Marines, and increasingly, our adversaries. Thanks largely to what has been termed the "CNN effect," instantaneous global communications, Americans have come to detest casualties. The result is a public expectation, even demand, that future conflicts be pristine and antiseptic. This desire for "bloodless battles" dovetails nicely with Sun Tzu's dictum that, ". . . to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill," however, it is also unrealistic, even when using NLWs.
Using high technology weapons and ingenuity to defeat an enemy while minimizing casualties and collateral damage is fundamentally appealing, especially when considering the number of civilians killed accidentally in Somalia as a result of peacekeeping efforts -- somewhere between 7,000 -- 10,000 according to a government source. The technological advances of these publicly and politically desirable NLWs is mind-boggling. Their applicability ranges all levels of warefare, from tactical through strategic, and they have a great deal of potential to contribute positively on the two upper levels. However, the intent of this study is to focus on the tactical level NLW employment in MOOTW, such as Somalia.
The Marine Corps is in the process of fielding 14 "Non-lethal Weapon Capability Sets" designed for use by the GCE of forward deployed MEU(SOC)s in MOOTW. It is important to note the offensive capability of these sets is confined to a number of pepper spray dispensers and various non-penetrating, kinetic energy and disorienting types of munitions. These particular sets are designed only for use against unarmed hostile elements and crowds (rioters). There are a number of important issues that need to be addressed regarding the employment of these systems and ROE. Appendix E provides a list of the contents of each set.
The first issue is labeling these relatively low technology weapons as non-lethal. The name itself is somewhat of a misnomer because these weapons, especially the non-penetrating rounds, can in fact be quite lethal if not employed precisely as designed. Non-lethal kinetic means have been employed for many years by civilian law-enforcement agencies. The basic goal is to cause pain or to knock over a person with non-penetrating rounds, usually fired from a hand held weapon. The effects are greatly dependent of several factors, including the distance fired from the intended subject, the part of the body targeted and hit, the type of clothing the subject is wearing, and obstacles in the path of the round (ie., other civilians).
The main problem with controlling the effects of these rounds, fired from an M203 grenade launcher or 12 gauge shotgun, is that the relatively high speed of the bullet is required during the whole flight phase for precise aiming at distances above ten meters. There is therefore, a relatively high risk of seriously injuring, or even killing, a targeted person when hit at too short a distance or in the face. Additionally, the relatively low muzzle velocity of these rounds, especially when compared to the lethal 5.56mm round from an M16A2, makes it entirely possible for another individual to move into the path of the round once fired, thereby raising the very real possibility of killing an unintended innocent bystander. This inherent characteristic makes it very difficult to single out and achieve a "soft kill" on a designated troublemaker when he is intermingled in a fluid, agitated crowd. It also places a premium on NLW training. However, due to length restrictions on this paper the training issue, which could easily constitute an MMS paper on its own, will not be discussed herein.
This was undoubtedly a concern for CENTCOM as they contemplated the proposed ROE for NLWs in United Shield. The result was a classified set of ROE that was overly restrictive on the use of NLWs. In essence, CENTCOM's ROE confined NLWs to situations where lethal force was warranted. This raises the question, "If the ROE for NLW use is restricted to situations which permit the use of lethal force what advantage is gained by their employment?"
The next area of concern with respect to employing NLWs in peace operations involves the increasingly confused distinction between the various peace missions. It seems that the distinction between peacekeeping and peace enforcement is becoming increasingly blurred in the politico-military realm. This is a dangerous fact because there is a very decided difference in the two, as noted earlier in this work. Peacekeeping is initiated at the invitation of all concerned parties with the goal of maintaining an established peace. It involves a very restrictive ROE premised mainly on self-defense and presence. In peace enforcement there may or may not be concurrence by all parties on the need for an interpositional force. Additionally, there is generally no peace to keep. In these operations, the ROE is more liberal because of the understanding that the force inserted into this environment may have to take combat-like action to restore and maintain a peace. More and more the U.S. is being asked to intervene in crises that are in the realm of peace enforcement but are being misinterpreted as peacekeeping. Blurring this distinction has the disastrous potential for the employment of the wrong force with the wrong ROE. This error can have disastrous results. Beirut is a perfect example.
Similarly, the types of crowds that Marines encounter in these two very different operations will likewise be quite disparate. Crowds encountered in peacekeeping operations will likely be unarmed throngs of people that are merely curious on-lookers that are eager to receive some manner of humanitarian relief. Generally, these people are grateful for the assistance provided by the Marines. While somewhat agitated at the conditions they have to endure they have no hostile intent towards their benefactors. In these instances, NLWs could be used very effectively to control anxious crowds. However, the crowds in peace enforcement operations have a very different character and pose a very real threat to the intervening force.
Unlike the crowds and riots in the U.S. in the 1960's, and even the later riots in Los Angeles and Florida in the 1990's, many Third World country rioters are out for no other reason than to kill one another. Many times this hatred, and thoroughly lethal intent, is turned on the forces attempting to restore order. One need only look to Africa and the rivalries between the Zulus and the African National Congress or the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda and Zaire for examples. The current trend internationally is toward answering U.N. and relief agencies' requests for assistance in this type of situation and the U.S. is increasingly being asked to intervene in situations where General Powell's doctrine of overwhelming force is not an option. Therefore, it is imperative that America's forward deployed expeditionary forces thoroughly understand the possible consequences of any attempt to control this deadly chaos with NLWs.
Riots in Third World countries are a form of warfare. As such they are carefully organized and possess an intricate command structure that will most likely be difficult for the peace enforcer to discern. Riot organizers will intermingle armed fighters amongst the rioters (women, children, and young men) to urge them on to increaslingly destructive measures. These civilian rioters act as a living, moving shield for the armed gunmen and may in fact be armed themselves with clubs, knives, spears, or even swords, as was the case in Somalia. These crowds could contain thousands, even tens of thousands of people; Mogadishu had between 750,000 and 1,000,000 inhabitants. Placing a unit of Marines armed with NLWs with an expectation to resolve the situation without killing anyone between the crowd and their intended objective can have very fatal results. The outcome of this encounter depends on several factors: the political intent and motivation behind the Marines' mission, the willingness of on-scene leaders to use force, the reaction of the crowd, and finally, the stringency and/or flexibility of the ROE with regards to both lethal and non-lethal force.
First is the problem of political and public expectations. The military in general, and the Marine Corps in particular, was basking in the glow of political correctness when news of the intended use of NLWs for United Shield hit the media. The crux of the problem is that NLWs may create options that appear so attractive, politically and otherwise, that decision makers will be tempted to use them in inappropriate situations. An expectation that U.S. forces, for moral or political reasons, will employ non-lethal means as a first resort, may lead to a "mind set" by the committed forces that they must attempt to use NLWs even when lethal force is warranted. This would be similar to the "mind set" of the Marines and their commanders in Beirut that their mission was "presence" and that they were not to take any aggressive offensive actions, even at the risk of their self-defense.
This leads to another concern. The politically and morally desirable use of NLWs will inevitably lead to the second-guessing of a Marine or his commander's decision to employ lethal force. Third World warlords and dictators tune into CNN and clearly understand the capabilities of NLWs and the policy implications that accompany their employment. It is easy to imagine circumstances where someone like Aideed manufactures an incident in which Marines are forced to use lethal force inflicting several casualties. The ensuing investigation and media coverage inevitably will show the instigators insisting that the dead were only peaceful protesters and demanding to know why the Marines used lethal vice non-lethal force to quell the protest. As was clearly demonstrated by both Beirut and Somalia, the American public is easily manipulated and instances such as this will be used to test U.S. resolve and to errode public support. The typical reaction will inevitably restrict the use of force even more.
Another effect of this undue political pressure and second-guessing will unquestionably be an increasingly negative impact on the individual Marine's willingness to discharge his weapon, even when fully justified for fear of legal repercussions. This is an unacceptable consequence. These young men are in harm's way and must feel free, based on their training and understanding of the the ROE, to employ their weapons lethally when necessary.
In the words of Brigadier General G.S. Newbold, the Commander of the 15th MEU during Restore Hope, "Mogadishu was a Corporal's war." This will be the case in future peace enforcement operations as well. The point is made because in the Marine Corps subordinate leaders will take a senior's musings, or verbalized thoughts, as directives and orders. This was the case with the guidance Colonel Geraghty received concerning the accidental discharges. Junior leaders that overemphasize the political intent or the importance of "minimizing" casualties will find themselves inadvertently sending a message to their subordinates to use non-lethal force when the appropriate response is lethal force. Such was the case in Somalia after the use of pepper spray was authorized. A Somali attacked a U.S. soldier with a knife and instead of shooting the Somali, which was fully justified under the ROE, nearby soldiers used the pepper spray. Fortunately the spray eventually took effect and the Somali was finally subdued after four attempts to stab the soldier. This example clearly illustrates the importance of the on-scene leader's confidence in his understanding of the ROE and his willingness to apply the appropriate force dictated by the situation, despite the possibility of his decision being second-guessed.
The next critical consideration must be the perceptions of potential adversaries towards a force committed to using NLWs. What kind of message is the U.S. sending the criminal elements of today's Third World countries? Signals that prove U.S. civility and restraint? Of a reverence for human life? A commitment to use minimum force to resolve conflicts? Or is the real message one of a lack of resolve to take whatever measures are necessary to accomplish the mission while protecting U.S. forces? Are not Americans, by taking extraordinary measures to reduce casualties, actually increasing the likelihood of U.S. forces being challenged by hostile elements because they know American soldiers and Marines will take measures not to kill them. Americans were viewed as "soft targets" in both Beirut and Somalia as a result of a universal realization by adversarial militiamen that the Marines would show remarkable restraint in not firing unless fired upon. It is easy to make the case, based on these historical examples, that a predilection to use NLWs will be interpreted in just this manner.
Non-lethal capabilities are designed to support objectives of thwarting aggression, promoting stabilization, discouraging, delaying or preventing hostile actions, and limiting escalation. As mentioned above, if U.S. forces are viewed as a "soft target," this may not be case. Taking the argument on step further, Third World countries do not possess NLWs. In the riot control scenario presented earlier, what happens when a "soft-kill" is made in an attempt to disperse a hostile crowd. Considering the limitation of the non-lethal munitions discussed earlier, the first consideration must be whether or not such an objective is possible. Providing the designated Marine successfully hits his target without injuring any civilians the unfolding situation is still potentially deadly. The gunman's cohorts hear the discharge of a weapon and see one of their comrades go down. They do not know that he was hit with a non-penetrating, non-lethal round. All they know is that a weapon was fired and one of their own is down. As the crowd begins to panic, anticipating what is about to happen, dozens of previously hidden weapons appear and retaliatory lethal rounds are fired at the Marines. Now the Marines, fully justified by existing ROE, respond with lethal fire. What was intended as an action to diffuse a potentially hazardous situation has just escalated into a full blown close quarter battle that results in several gunmen and civilian casualties.
Many will argue that this is an unlikely scenario, but is it? Review again the historical data presented earlier on Beirut and Somalia and how the adversaries effectively and efficiently manipulated the military's predisposition for restraint and minimizing casualties. Third World militiamen do not have the luxury of responding in kind with like weapons. Therefore, any response on their part, be it calculated or instinctive, will be lethal, thus escalating the situation. Immediately, U.S. efforts in the region suffer a potentially mortal blow, which was probably the intent of the riot organizers in the first place. Additionally, a system that was designed to prevent such an incident was actually the cause of it. Now military and political officials are forced to explain an embarrassing incident along with actions to prevent other such incidents from occuring. The result, as with the snipers in Somalia, will be more restrictive ROE on NLW use.
Additionally, one must consider the flexibility afforded by current ROE. The Marine Corps' Draft Concept of Employment for NLW Capability Sets states that the primary objective of NLWs is force protection. They are designed to provide Marines with "a means of shaping their area of operation beyond traditional verbal threats, 'shows of force,' or risky riot control formations and short of employing deadly force." However, the restrictive nature of the only ROE generated thus far (CENTCOM ROE for United shield) for operations involving NLWs impugned the ability of these weapons to fill this void.
ROE that restrict the use of NLWs to cases when lethal force is authorized not only negates the need for these weapon systems it thoroughly contaminates the individual Marine's decision making process. In the nebulous and chaotic world of peace operations where a Marine is tasked with making a life and death decision, it is imperative that his decision making process is as short and simplistic as possible. By giving that Marine a non-lethal capability and telling him he may not use it except when lethal force is warranted he is placed in a decision making dilemma at precisely the time he needs to be sure of his actions. He already believes, because of political and morals reasons stated earlier, that his NLW is the weapon of choice. Now, when confronted with a situation where he should use lethal force he is torn between what he should do and what he believes he is expected to do. This split-second delay in his decision making process may result in his, or another Marine, being killed because he chose to employ the wrong system.
If these capabilities are to be employed in future peace operations, ROE drafters must accept the fact that there is not a clear distinction between the use of deadly force and all other means of force. As civilian law enforcement agencies have recognized, and successfully used for years, there is a force continuum. Viewed in this manner, Marines are provided a series of intertwined options of varying degrees of force that range from doing nothing to using lethal force. This is in utter contrast to the present method dictated by existing ROE which clearly reflects a distinct choice of no force or lethal force. Two of these proposed force continuums are reproduced in Appendix F.
Even when employing the continuum concept there are additional decision making obstacles that must be overcome. The individual Marine must not be concerned with trying to figure out where he is on the continuum and what is the appropriate response at the level. He has to know instinctively what the proper degree of force to be used is and then be able to apply it instantaneously. Any other reaction could have the same negative consequences as the overly restrictive ROE discussed above. Providing the military establishment comes to accept the concept of a force continuum and develops ROE that permit NLW use within that framework, there is still another ROE concern that must be addressed.
What actions are required of a Marine, or a Marine unit, after they achieve a "soft kill" on an intended subject? Does this "soft kill" entail additional obligations under the law of war? Will these obligations put Marines at further risk? They obviously cannot let him lie in the middle of the street writhing in pain. It would not play well on CNN to have the victim of a non-lethal attack, one intended to reduce human suffering, crying out for help while Marines stood by doing nothing. Conversely, scenes of the same victim lying beside the bodies of one or two dead Marines who dared to go out to aid him and were shot by his compadres would not play well either. On the flip side, one must consider what to do if the NLWs successfully de-escalate the situation and the Marines have freedom of movement afterwards. Now they are free to give aid to the victims, but then what? There are no detention centers in this lawless frontier, and a MEU(SOC) is not equipped or trained in the detention of undesireables. What do the Marines do with them? Patch them up medically and let them go so that in a couple of days they will be right back at it? These are serious ROE issues that cannot be side-stepped. They must be addressed now because this capability is being fielded and deployed with the MEU(SOC)s today.
The U.S. has made tremendous leaps in the creation and application of ROE in the ten plus years since the tragic boming of the BLT HQs in Beirut. The overly restrictive nature of the Beirut ROE has been replaced with flexibility, latitude in intrepretation, and a willingness to use whatever force necessary to accomplish the mission and protect the force; as was seen in Somalia. However, the U.S. military has allowed political correctness and American squemishness for casualties to creap into how they conduct warfighting on the lower end of the warfighting spectrum. The combination of politically and morally desirable NLWs, and a return to exceedingly legislative and restrictive ROE will have deadly consequences for Marines tasked to implement them.
NLWs have a wide range of applicability at all levels, from the tactical to the strategic, and can have tremendously positive results. What this paper has tried to illustrate is that in a MOOTW environment they may not be the best choice of weapon systems to employ, and even that has a caveat. In peacekeeping operations where there is a peace to keep and the Marines are welcomed by all parties, these weapons can have vast applicability. However, as the world becomes increasingly urbanized and the "have nots" become increasingly disenchanted, the chances of Marines being inserted into a harzardous peace enforcement mission expand exponentially. In this chaotic world the combination of NLWs and restrictive ROE will have disastrous results. Therefore, this paper proposes several specific recommendations to the various levels of command to ensure that the learning curve for this new capability is not exceedingly long and hazardous, as the ROE dilemma has been. The U.S. armed forces cannot afford to step back ten years and experience another Beirut.
The first recommendation is for U.S. policy makers to become thoroughly familiar with the differences between peacekeeping, peace enforcement, and peacemaking. The first two of these are military operations but are significantly different and require two very distinct sets of ROE. The third, a commonly misused and confused term, is a diplomatic function and does not involve the military. In order for the nation's military forces to be committed with the proper tools to achieve a political mandate and protect the force, the nation's policy makers must first understand into what type of mission they are committing forces.
Next, policy makers need to become familiar with the capabilities of NLWs, specifically the types of systems their forward-deployed Marine forces are using. They must understand that these weapons are not perfectly non-lethal and that when employed in other than perfect conditions, casualties or even fatalities are likely. They must also fully comprehend that in the nebulous world of peace enforcement there is a very real possiblity that use of these systems may well result in escalation as opposed to stabilization. Both of these considerations must be taken under review when compemplating NLW use in this environment because these units are forward-deployed as part of this nation's National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement. As was discussed early in this paper the improper use of force by a single member of these units during a peace operation can have serious strategic and political implications. By familiarizing themselves with the limitations and capabilities of these relatively low-tech weapons, policy makers will not put unrealistic expectations on the military when the decision is made to employ them. This takes a great deal of pressure off the individual Marine and increases the likelihood he will make the right decision at the right time.
Additionally, an unrealistic expectation for NLWs use first ties the hands of the on-scene commander in much the same way that the "presence" mission did to the Marines in Beirut. Policy makers must understand that the criminal elements that Marines face in Third World peace enforcement missions do not make logical responses to actions taken against them. In these missions Marines are operating under their (the criminal element's) rules and this puts the Marines in a very precarious position from the outset. The further constrain the Marines' flexibility and latitude in force protection with unrealistic expectations of NLW use and restrictive ROE simply invites disaster.
The third recommendation is for the JCS and combatant commanders. By taking a close look at the Beirut case study and the NLW discussion presented in this paper, it is evident that the "Blue card/White card" dichotomy that existed in Beirut still exists today between the SROE and NLW ROE. Therefore, NLW ROE must be incorporated into the SROE and they must be unclassified, unlike those issued for United Shield. This affords the opportunity to begin NLW training in both basic officer and enlisted training. It also allows the services to develop programs of instruction that can be introduced into training cylces so that when the individual soldier or Marine is placed in a position that he must employ force, either lethal or non-lethal, he will know instinctively what to do and is able to react instanteously. This will reduce the risk of friendly casualties.
In concert with this recommendation, these NLW ROE must consider that the application of force is along a continuum and is not a clear cut distinction between use and non-use. With training, this reduces the individual soldier or Marine's decision-making process and facilitates the same response outlined above. To continue in the current restrictive mode makes these individuals tentative and will result in casualties when they have to choose between a lethal and non-lethal response.
Further, these leaders must remember who ROE are designed to protect; the commited force so that it can accomplish its assigned mission. Many NLW proponents draw a parallel between the use of NLWs in civilian law enforcement and peace operations to support their argument. However, the United States Marine Corps is not a police force, and they are not protecting U.S. citizens in their role as the world's peace enforcers. They are a professional military organization that is being sent in harm's way to restore peace in countries racked by civil war and strife. America's Marines are facing hostile and criminal elements that have little or no concern about their fellow citizens, let alone a foreign force sent to impose peace and deprive them of their power. The forces commited to these operations need to be provided the appropriate means to protect themselves when doing the nation's bidding. This translates to liberal (robust) ROE that allow the commander the maximum latitude possible to protect his Marines, to include lethal preemptive measures to avert a potentially hazardous situation.
The final recommendation is for the Marine Corps. First and foremost the Corps must take a hard look at whether or not NLWs are the proper weapon for riot and crowd control in peace enforcement operations. The disadvantages of these systems clearly outweigh the advantages. It would be prudent to save these systems for less volitile peacekeeping missions. Marines have shown remarkable adaptability and magnificent restraint in the application of deadly force throughout the years. This is clearly visible in both the case studies examined in this paper. Has the Corps lost confidence in the troops' ability to continue in this same vein or is it simply bowing to political pressures? If so, is the price of political correctness worth the potential risk to our Marines, and the faith they have in their leaders to take care of them, in all types of operations?
If the choice is political correctness, then the Marine Corps must, at a minimum, take the stand that peace enforcement operations are not the place for NLWs. Marine employment in peacekeeping operations, such as the current operation in Haiti, provide the type of environment that is conducive for NLW use in crowd control, however, the Beiruts and Somalias of this world do not. The risk to the nation's premier fighting force is too great and the loss of a single Marine for the sake of political correctness is one too many.
Dr. John B. "Black Jack" Matthews, in a personal interview, made the comment, "I'd
walk across the bridge with the devil if meant saving a Marine's life!" If leaders at all echelons of command take this approach to leading and preparing their Marines for combat, and that is a very real possibility in MOOTW, then we will be able to avert the next Beirut.
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Note: * indicates articles or documents that address the applicability of NLWs to the operational and strategic levels of war for those interested in additional information on those subjects.
Captain J. Ashley Roach, USN, "Rules of Engagement," Naval War College Review, January - February 1983, 47-48.
Guidelines of Rules of Engagement
1. When on the post, mobile or foot patrol, keep loaded magazine in weapon, bolt closed, weapon on safe, no round in the chamber.
2. Do not chamber a round unless told to do so by a commissioned offiecer unles you must act in immediate self-defense where deadly force is authorized.
3. Keep ammo for crew served weapons readily available but not loaded. Weapons on safe.
4. Call local forces to assist in self-defense effort. Notify headquarters.
5. Use only minimum degree of force to accomplish any mission.
6. Stop the use of force when it is no longer needed to accomplish the mission.
7. If you receive effective hostile fire, direct your fire at the source. If possible, use friendly snipers.
8. Respect civilian property; do not attack it unless absolutely necessary to protect friendly forces.
9. Protect innocent civilians from harm.
10. Respect and protect recognized medical agencies such as Red Cross and Red Crescent, etc.
Figure 1. Beirut White Card ROE: September 1982 - October 1983
Rules of Engagement for American and British Embassy External Security Forces
1. Loaded magazines will be in weapons at all times when on post, bolt closed, weapon on safe. No round will be in the chamber.
2. Round will be chambered only when intending to fire.
3. Weapon will be fired only under the following circumstances:
a. A hostile act has been committed.
(1) A hostile act is defined as rounds fired at the embassy, embassy personnel, embassy vehicle, or Marine sentries.
(2) The response will be proportional.
(3) The response will cease when attack ceases.
(4) There will be no pursuit by fire.
(5) A hostile act from a vehicle is when it crosses the established barricade. First fire to diable the vehicle and apprehend occupants. If the vehicle cannot be stopped, fire on the occupants.
(6) A hostile act from an individual or group of individuals is present when they cross the barricade and will not stop after warnings in Arabic and French. If they do not stop fire at them.
4. Well aimed fire will be used; weapons will not be placed on automatic.
5. Care will be taken to avoid civilian casualties.
Figure 2. Beirut Blue Card ROE: May 1983 - October 1983
Benis M. Frank, U.S. Marines in Lebanon 1982-1984, (Washington DC : History and Museums Division, Headquarter, U.S. Marine Corps, 1987), 24 and 64.
JTF FOR SOMALIA RELIEF OPERATION
GROUND FORCES RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
NOTHING IN THESE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
LIMITS YOUR RIGHT TO TAKE APPROPRIATE
ACTION TO DEFEND YOURSELF AND YOUR UNIT
A. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO USE FORCE TO DEFEND YOURSELF AGAINST ATTACKS OR THREATS OF ATTACK.
B. HOSTILE FIRE MAY BE RETURNED EFFECTIVELY AND PROMPLY TO STOP A HOSTILE ACT.
C. WHEN U.S. FORCES ARE ATTACKED BY UNARMED HOSTILE ELEMENTS, MOBS AND/OR RIOTERS, U.S. FORCES SHOULD USE THE MINIMUM FORCE NECESSARY UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND PROPORTIONAL TO THE THREAT.
D. YOU MAY NOT SEIZE THE PROPERTY OF OTHERS TO ACCOMPLISH YOUR MISSION.
E. DETENTION OF CIVILIANS IS AUTHORIZED FOR SECURITY REASONS OR IN SELF-DEFENSE.
1. THE UNITED STATES IS NOT AT WAR.
2. TREAT ALL PERSONS WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT.
3. USE MINIMUM FORCE TO CARRY OUT MISSION.
4. ALWAYS BE PREPARED TO ACT IN SELF-DEFENSE.
JTF SJA SER#1, 2 DEC 92
Figure 1. UNITAF ROE CARD : SOMALIA, DEC 1992 - MAY 1993
This card was reproduced from an actual UNITAF ROE CARD.
JTF UNITED SHIELD
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT SER #1, 11 JAN 95
NOTHING IN THESE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT LIMITS YOUR RIGHT TO TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION TO DEFEND YOURSELF AND YOUR UNIT
A. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO USE DEADLY FORCE IN RESPONSE TO A HOSTILE ACT OR WHEN THERE IS A CLEAR INDICATION OF HOSTILE INTENT.
B. HOSTILE FIRE MAY BE RETURNED EFFECTIVELY AND PROMPTLY TO STOP A HOSTILE ACT.
C. WHEN U.S. FORCES ARE ATTACKED BY UNARMED HOSTILE ELEMENTS, MOBS, AND/OR RIOTERS, U.S. FORCES SHOULD USE THE MINIMUM FORCE NECESSARY UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND PROPORTIONAL TO THE THREAT.
D. INSIDE THE DESIGNATED SECURITY ZONES, ONCE A HOSTILE ACT OR HOSTILE INTENT IS DEMONSTRATED, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO USE MINIMUM FORCE TO PREVENT ARMED INDIVIDUALS/CREW-SERVED WEAPONS FROM ENDANGERING U.S./UNOSOM II FORCES. THIS INCLUDES DEADLY FORCE.
E. DETENTIONS OF CIVILIANS IS AUTHORIZED FOR SECURITY REASONS OR IN SELF-DEFENSE.
1. THE UNITED STATES IS NOT AT WAR.
2. TREAT ALL PERSONS WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT
3. USE MINIMUM FORCE TO CARRY OUT MISSION.
4. ALWAYS BE PREPARED TO ACT IN SELF-DEFENSE.
Figure 1. CJCS approved CTF ROE Card for United Shield
Colonel F.M. Lorenz, USMC, "Rules of Engagement in Operation United Shield," Staff Judge Advocate, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA, 8 August 1995, 12. Unpublished paper submitted for publication in Miliary Review, November 1995.
APPENDIX D cont'd
13TH MEU (S0C) UNITED SHIELD
ROE SERIAL #1 130001Z FEB 95
Criteria for the use of Deadly Force
Identify - Friend, unknown, or not friendly? I must know it is not friendly.
Threat - To myself, my fellow Marines and Sailors, CTF or UNOSOM II forces and civilians and NGO's accompanying or intermingled with UNOSOMII personnel directly supporting US operations, or othe specified facilities and property.
Hostile - In response to a hostile act or clear evidence of hostile intent to cause great bodily harm or death.
NOTHING IN THESE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT LIMITS A UNIT LEADER'S OBLIGATION TO TAKE ALL NECESSARY AND APPROPRIATE ACTION TO DEFEND HIS UNIT AND U.S. FORCES
General Rules of Engagement
1. This ROE takes precedence over all other rules governing the use of deadly force.
2. I always have the right to defend myself, my fellow Marines and Sailors, UNOSOMM personnel, and personnel directly supporting US operations.
3. I will protect US, UNOSOM, and other specified facilities and property.
4. I do not want to cause excessive collateral damage to personnel or property.
5. I will use only the force necessary to protect myself and accomplish my mission.
6. I must be able to observe point of impact for indirect fire.
7. I will not use booby traps, mines, or other unattended means of force.
8. I can detain any individual who interferes with the accomplishment of my mission.
9. I can detain any individual who commits a crime within U.S. controlled areas until I can turn them over to higher headquarters.
10. My actions need to be quick, deliberate, accurate, and never as a result of a desire for revenge.
If conditions permit, I may employ the following responses: (though not in any order)
Verbal warnings in English or Somali
Firing a warning shot in the air
Show of force, including riot control formation
Use of pepper spray and riot control agents (as approved)
None of the above precludes my use of deadly force if required.
1. I will remember that the United States is not at war.
2. I will treat all persons with dignity and respect.
3. I will use minimum force to carry out the mission.
4. I will not take souvenirs.
5. I will not five food or water to the Somali people.
6. I will always be prepared to act in self-defense.
Figure 2. ROE Card (front and back) issued by 13th MEU as opposed to CTF card in Fig. 1
Colonel F.M. Lorenz, USMC, "Rules of Engagement in Operation United Shield," 14-15.
FISCAL YEAR 1996 NONLETHAL WEAPONS PROCUREMENT
The Commandant of the Marine Corps was assigned as the joint executive agent for nonlethal weapons and the Corps was directed to plan for the reprogramming of $2.1 million in Marine Corps procurement dollars for the purchase of nonlethal weapons and equipment last March. The Marine Corps Combat Development Process is purchasing 14 "Nonlethal Weapon Capability Sets" designed for use by a battalion landing team. The estimated cost per set is $148,000, making for a total buy of just under $2.1 million. Each set includes:
200 riot face shields 40 full length riot shields
200 31-inch riot batons 2 riot baton training suits
12 training batons 9 rifleman's combat optics
13 10-watt bullhorns 3 handheld spot lights
5,000 caltrops 200 flexcuff packs (10 per)
45 squad pepper spray (OC) 18 squad OC training canisters
92 fireteam OC dispensers 120 fireteam OC training canisters
891 individual OC dispensers 400 individual OC training canisters
81 shotgun ammo pouches 27 12-gauge shotguns (redistibuted)
236 shotgun training rounds 741 shotgun bean bag rounds
27 shotgun gas grenade launchers 348 blank/shotgun launching cartridges
4,050 buckshot catridges 798 fin-stabilized rubber shotgun rounds
702 40mm rubber rounds 702 40mm wooden rounds
1,512 40mm stinger cartridges 162 40mm nonlethal ammo carrying pouches
162 stingball/flashbang pouches 72 stingball training grenades
729 stingball grenades 729 Mk141 flashbangs
"Sid" Heal, USMCR, "Nonlethal Technology and the Way We Think of
'Force'," Marine Corps Gazette, January
Figure 1. Model being used by USMC, Commandant's Warfighting Lab
Major Gene Apicelle, USMC, "Non-lethal Capabilities," Commandant's Warfighting Lab, Quantico, VA, paper copies of Sea Dragon Non-lethal capabilities brief.
APPENDIX F cont'd
Figure 2. Continuum Propsed by Col. F.M. Lorenz, USMC
Colonel F.M. Lorenz, USMC, "Rules of Engagement in Operation United Shield," Staff Judge Advocate, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA, 8 August 1995, 12.
Unpublished paper submitted for publication in Military Review, November 1995.