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Appendix A

Fratricide Prevention

Fratricide is as old as warfare itself, a complex problem that defies simple solutions. Fratricide can be broadly defined as the employment of friendly weapons and munitions, with the intent to kill the enemy or destroy his equipment or facilities, that results in unforeseen and unintentional death or injury to friendly personnel. This appendix focuses on actions leaders can take with current resources to reduce the risk of fratricide.


Section I. Magnitude of the Problem
Section II. Risk Identification and Preventive Measures
Section III. Risk Assessment
Section IV. Fratricide Reduction Measures
Section V. Fratricide Risk Considerations (OPORD Format)

Section I. Magnitude of the Problem

The modern battlefield is more lethal than any in history. The tempo of operations is rapid, and the nonlinear nature of the battlefield creates command and control challenges for all unit leaders.

The accuracy and lethality of modern weapons make it possible to engage and destroy targets at these extended acquisition ranges. At the same time, however, the ability of US forces to acquire targets using thermal imagery and other sophisticated sighting systems exceeds our ability to accurately identify these targets as friend or foe. As a result, friendly elements can be engaged unintentionally and destroyed in a matter of seconds.

Added to this is the problem of battlefield obscuration, which becomes a critical consideration whenever thermal sights are the primary source of target identification. Rain, dust, fog, smoke, and snow degrade identification capability by reducing the intensity and clarity of thermal images.

On the battlefield, positive visual identification cannot be the sole engagement criteria at ranges beyond 1,000 meters. Situational awareness is the key; it must be maintained throughout an operation.

Section II. Risk Identification and Preventive Measures

Reduction of fratricide risk begins during the planning phase of an operation and continues throughout preparation and execution. Risk identification must be conducted at all levels during each phase, and the results clearly communicated up and down the chain of command so risk assessment can begin. This section covers considerations that influence risk identification; it also focuses on measures the platoon leader can implement both to make the identification process more effective and to help prevent friendly fire incidents from occurring. Section III of this appendix covers the risk assessment process; Section IV lists additional fratricide reduction measures and guidelines.

Planning Phase

A plan that is thoroughly developed and understood helps to minimize fratricide risk. The following considerations help indicate the potential for fratricide in a given operation:

  • The clarity of the enemy situation.
  • The clarity of the friendly situation.
  • The clarity of the commander's intent.
  • The complexity of the operation.
  • The planning time available at each level.

Graphics are a basic tool that commanders at all levels use to clarify their intent, add precision to their concept, and communicate their plan to subordinates. As such, graphics can be a very useful tool in reducing the risk of fratricide. Commanders at all levels must understand the definitions and purpose of operational graphics and the techniques of their employment.

Note. See FM 101-5-1 for the definitions of each type of graphic control measure.

Preparation Phase

The following factors may cause fratricide risks to become evident during rehearsals:

  • Number and type of rehearsals.
  • Training and proficiency levels of units and individuals.
  • The habitual relationships between units conducting the operation.
  • The physical readiness (endurance) of the troops conducting the operation.

Backbriefs and rehearsals are primary tools in identifying and reducing fratricide risk during the preparation phase. The following are some considerations for their use:

  • Backbriefs ensure subordinates understand the commander's intent. They often highlight areas of confusion, complexity, or planning errors.
  • The type of rehearsal conducted determines what types of risks are identified.
  • Rehearsals should extend to all levels of command and involve all key players.

Execution Phase

During execution, in-stride risk assessment and reaction are necessary to overcome unforeseen fratricide risk situations. The following are factors to consider when assessing fratricide risks:

  • Intervisibility between adjacent units.
  • Amount of battlefield obscuration.
  • Ability or inability to positively identify targets.
  • Similarities and differences in equipment, vehicles, and uniforms among friendly and enemy forces.
  • Vehicle density on the battlefield.
  • The tempo of the battle.

Maintaining situational awareness at all levels and at all times is another key to fratricide reduction as an operation progresses. Units must develop and employ effective techniques and SOPs to aid leaders and crewmen in this process. These techniques include-

  • Monitoring on the next higher net.
  • Radio cross-talk between units.
  • Accurate position reporting and navigation.
  • Training and use/exchange of liaison officers (LO).

Section III. Risk Assessment

Risk assessment must be conducted whenever fratricide risk factors are identified. It must take place at all levels during each phase of operations. As with risk identification, the results of the assessment must be passed on to all levels of the chain of command so that fratricide reduction measures can be developed and implemented. Refer to Section IV for specific reduction measures.

Figure A-1 is a worksheet for evaluating fratricide risk in the context of mission requirements. The worksheet lists six mission-accomplishment factors that affect the risk of fratricide, along with related considerations for each factor. Assess the potential risk in each area as low, medium, or high, and assign a point value to each (one point for low risk, two for medium risk, three for high risk). Add the point values for the overall fratricide assessment score. Use the resulting score only as a guide, however. The final assessment must be based both on observable risk factors like those on the worksheet and on your "feel" for the intangible factors affecting the operation. Note that descriptive terms are listed only in the low- and high-risk columns of the worksheet. The assessment of each factor will determine whether the risk matches one of these extremes or lies somewhere between them as a medium risk.

LOW (1)
HIGH (3)

  • Commander's Intent
  • Complexity
  • Enemy Situation
  • Friendly Situation
  • ROE

  • Clear


  • Intervisibility
  • Obscuration
  • Battle tempo
  • Positive target ID

  • Favorable

    3. CONTROL


  • Command relationships
  • Audio
  • Visual
  • Graphic
  • SOPs
  • LOs
  • Location/Navigation
  • Organic
    Well Seen


    Not understood
    Not used


    (Compared to US)

  • Friendly
  • Enemy
  • Similar




  • Individual proficiency
  • Unit proficiency
  • Rehearsal
  • Habitual relationship
  • Endurance

  • MOS Qual


    (1/3 - 2/3 Rule)

  • Higher HQ
  • Own HQ
  • Lower HQ
  • Adequate











  • Commander may use numbers as the situation dictates.
  • Numbers alone may not give accurate fratricide risk.
  • Figure A-1. Fratricide risk assessment worksheet.

    Section IV. Fratricide Reduction Measures

    The following measures are provided as a guide to actions that can reduce fratricide risk. They are not directive in nature, nor are they intended to restrict initiative. Apply them as appropriate based on the specific situation and METT-T factors.

    • Identify and assess potential fratricide risks in the estimate of the situation. Express these risks in the OPORD or FRAGO.
    • Maintain situational awareness, focusing on such areas as current intelligence; unit locations and dispositions; denial areas (minefields/FASCAM); contaminated areas, such as ICM and NBC; SITREPs; and METT-T factors.
    • Ensure positive target identification. Review vehicle/weapon ID cards. Know at what ranges and under what conditions positive identification of friendly vehicles/weapons is possible.
    • Establish a command climate that stresses fratricide prevention. Enforce fratricide prevention measures, emphasize the use of doctrinally sound tactics, techniques, and procedures. Ensure constant supervision in the execution of orders and the performance of all tasks and missions to standard.
    • Recognize the signs of battlefield stress. Maintain unit cohesion by taking quick, effective action to alleviate it.
    • Conduct individual, leader, and collective (unit) training covering fratricide awareness, target identification and recognition, and fire discipline.
    • Develop a simple, decisive plan.
    • Give complete and concise mission orders.
    • Use SOPs that are consistent with doctrine to simplify mission orders. Periodically review and change SOPs as needed.
    • Strive for maximum planning time for you and your subordinates.
    • Use common language/vocabulary and doctrinally correct standard terminology and control measures, such as fire support coordination line, zone of engagement, and restrictive fire lines.
    • Ensure thorough coordination is conducted.
    • Plan for and establish effective communications.
    • Plan for collocation of command posts whenever it is appropriate to the mission, such as during a passage of lines.
    • Designate and employ LOs as appropriate.
    • Ensure rules of engagement are clear.
    • Include fratricide risk as a key factor in terrain analysis (OCOKA).
    • Conduct rehearsals whenever the situation allows time to do so.
    • Be in the right place at the right time. Use position location/navigation devices (GPS and POSNAV); know your location and the locations of adjacent units (left, right, leading, and follow-on); and synchronize tactical movement.
    • Include discussion of fratricide incidents in after-action reports.

    Section V. Fratricide Risk Considerations (OPORD Format)

    This section, which parallels the five-paragraph OPORD, contains key factors and considerations in fratricide reduction. This is not a change to the OPORD format; rather, it should be used during OPORD development to ensure fratricide reduction measures are included in the order. It is not a strict guide. The factors and considerations are listed where they would likely appear in the OPORD, but they may warrant evaluation during preparation of other paragraphs.

    1. Situation.

    a. Enemy forces.

    (1) Are there similarities among enemy and friendly equipment and uniforms that could lead to fratricide?
    (2) What languages do enemy forces speak? Could these contribute to fratricide risk?

    (3) What are the enemy's deception capabilities and his past record of deception activities?

    (4) Do you know the locations of enemy forces?

    b. Friendly forces.

    (1) Among the allied forces, are there differences (or similarities with enemy forces) in language, uniform, and equipment that could increase fratricide risk during combined operations?
    (2) Could differences in equipment and uniforms among US armed forces increase fratricide risk during joint operations?

    (3) What differences in equipment and uniforms can be stressed to help prevent fratricide?

    (4) What is the friendly deception plan?

    (5) What are the locations of your unit and adjacent units (left, right, leading, follow-on)?
    (6) What are the locations of neutrals and noncombatants?

    c. Own forces.

    (1) What is the status of training activities? What are the levels of individual, crew, and unit proficiency?

    (2) Will fatigue be a factor for friendly forces during the operation? Has an effective sleep plan been developed?

    (3) Are friendly forces acclimatized to the area of operations?

    (4) What is the age (new, old, or mix) and condition of equipment in friendly units? What is the status of new equipment training?

    (5) What are the expected MOPP requirements for the operation?

    d. Attachments and detachments.

    (1) Do attached elements understand pertinent information regarding enemy and friendly forces?
    (2) Are detached elements supplied this pertinent information by their gaining units?

    e. Weather.

    (1) What are the expected visibility conditions (light data and precipitation) for the operation?
    (2) What effect will heat and cold have on soldiers, weapons, and equipment?

    f. Terrain.

    (1) Do you know the topography and vegetation (such as urban, mountainous, hilly, rolling, flat, desert, swamp/marsh, prairie/steppe, jungle, dense forest, open woods) of the expected area of operations?
    (2) Have you evaluated the terrain using the factors of OCOKA?

    2. Mission. Is the mission, as well as all associated tasks and purposes, clearly understood?

    3. Execution.

    a. Task organization.

    (1) Has the unit worked under this task organization before?
    (2) Are SOPs compatible with the task organization (especially with attached units)?

    (3) Are special markings or signals (for example, cats' eyes, chemlites, or panels) needed for positive identification of uniforms and equipment?

    (4) What special weapons and/or equipment will be used? Do they look or sound like enemy weapons and/or equipment?

    b. Concept of the operation.

    (1) Maneuver. Are main and supporting efforts identified to ensure awareness of fratricide risks and prevention measures?

    (2) Fires (direct and indirect).

    (a) Are priorities of fires identified?

    (b) Have target lists been developed?
    (c) Has the fire execution matrix/overlay been developed?

    (d) Have locations of denial areas (minefields, FASCAM) and contaminated areas (ICM, NBC) been identified?

    (e) Are the locations of all supporting fire targets identified in the OPORD/OPLAN overlays?

    (f) Are aviation and CAS targets clearly identified? Have signals been established to positively identify these targets for the aircraft? Have airspace coordination areas been developed? Have enemy air defense systems been suppressed?

    (g) Has the direct-fire plan been developed and synchronized with the fire support plan?

    (h) Have final protective fires been designated?

    (i) Have you identified and verified sector limits?

    (j) Have executors for each target been assigned and do they understand when and where to shoot? Do the shooters have "eyes on" the target?

    (k) Are the observers surveyed in or are they using a map spot? Target location errors can cause big problems.

    (l) Do all leaders and executors understand where the fire support coordination measures are and when they go into effect? Rehearsal is the key.

    (m) Can the fire support officer hear what targets are being called on the maneuver nets?

    (n) Have all targets been rehearsed with the executors and the field artillery battalion?
    (o) Does the reinforcing or general support reinforcing field artillery have all the proper graphics and understand where they fit in? Did they attend the rehearsal?

    (p) Have restrictions on specific munitions been established and does everyone know where they are planned and emplaced?

    (3) Engineer tasks.

    (a) Are friendly minefields, including FASCAM and ICM dud-contaminated areas, known?

    (b) Are obstacles identified, along with the approximate time needed for reduction/breaching of each?

    (4) Tasks to each subordinate unit. Are friendly forces identified, as appropriate, for each subordinate maneuver element?

    (5) Tasks to CS/CSS units. Have locations of friendly forces been reported to CS/CSS units?

    (6) Coordinating instructions.

    (a) Will rehearsals be conducted? Are they necessary? Are direct and indirect fires included?

    (b) Is a backbrief necessary?

    (c) Are appropriate control measures clearly explained and illustrated in the OPORD and overlays? Have they been disseminated to everyone who has a need to know? What is the plan for using these control measures to synchronize the battle and prevent fratricide?

    (d) Have target/vehicle identification drills been practiced?

    (e) Do subordinate units know the immediate action, drill, or signal for "CEASE FIRE" or "I AM FRIENDLY" if they come under unknown or friendly fire? Is there a backup action?

    (f) Is guidance in handling dud munitions, such as ICM and CBUs, included?

    4. Service Support.

    a. Are train locations and identification markings known by everyone?

    b. Do medical and maintenance personnel know the routes between train units?

    5. Command and Signal.

    a. Command.

    (1) What are the locations of the commander and key staff members?
    (2) What is the chain of command and the succession of command?

    b. Signal.

    (1) Do instructions include backup code words and visual signals for all special and emergency events?

    (2) Do instructions cover how to identify friendly forces to aircraft?

    (3) Are SOI distributed to all units with a need to know, such as higher, lower, adjacent, leading, and follow-on elements?

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