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Military

Chapter 2
Command and Control in a Counterinsurgency Environment

SECTION VI RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

2-66. The proper application of force is a critical component to any successful counterinsurgency operation. In a counterinsurgency, the center of gravity is public support. In order to defeat an insurgent force, US forces must be able to separate insurgents from the population. At the same time, US forces must conduct themselves in a manner that enables them to maintain popular domestic support. Excessive or indiscriminant use of force is likely to alienate the local populace, thereby increasing support for insurgent forces. Insufficient use of force results in increased risks to US and multinational forces and perceived weaknesses that can jeopardize the mission by emboldening insurgents and undermining domestic popular support. Achieving the appropriate balance requires a thorough understanding of the nature and causes of the insurgency, the end state, and the military's role in a counterinsurgency operation. Nevertheless, US forces always retain the right to use necessary and proportional force for individual and unit self-defense in response to a hostile act or demonstrated hostile intent.

2-67. In planning counterinsurgency operations, it is imperative that leaders and Soldiers understand that military force is not an end in itself, but is just one of the instruments of national power employed by the political leadership to achieve its broader objectives. A military commander is never given the absolute authority to act without ultimate accountability. Military action and the application of force are limited by a variety of political and practical considerations, some of which may not seem sensible at the tactical level. Leaders and Soldiers at all levels need to understand the nature of such limitations and the rationale behind them in order to make sound decisions regarding the application of or restraint in the use of force.

2-68. Determining the appropriate level of military force is one of the most difficult issues confronting leaders and Soldiers. Tactical decisions regarding the application of force can often have strategic implications. Typically, US forces look to the ROE as the primary method to determine the appropriate application of force. Rules of engagement are directives issued by competent military authority that delineate the circumstances and limitations under which United States forces will initiate and/or continue combat engagement with other forces encountered (JP 1-02).

2-69. ROE impose political, operational, practical, and legal restrictions on the otherwise permissible use of military force. The nature and extent of restrictions contained in the ROE vary dramatically based on the justification for the initial involvement of US forces, the tactical situation, the presence of civilians, and the type of terrain in which forces are operating (urban or rural). Leaders conducting counterinsurgency operations are likely to find themselves operating with a much more constrained set of ROE. Soldiers may find it difficult and frustrating to conduct offensive operations because of the restrictive ROE. For example, defense of designated non-US Forces or designated foreign persons and their property requires approval from the President or Secretary of Defense.

2-70. Care must be taken to ensure that the mission drives the ROE and not vice-versa. The ROE may exercise a significant influence on a unit's ability to accomplish its mission. Therefore, it is imperative for commanders and staffs to critically evaluate the ROE in light of their mission. The impact of the ROE must be fully developed and addressed in staff estimates. ROE should be used to assist in course of action development, analysis (war-gaming), and selection. (See FM 5-0.) The commander should aggressively seek modifications to the ROE if the ROE are inadequate in light of the mission and anticipated threat level. The development, modification, distribution, and training of ROE must be timely and responsive to changing threats. Changes must be distributed immediately.

2-71. Leaders remember that the ROE are applicable in all situations. While ROE govern the use of force in all situations, they do not dictate a certain amount of force to be used in all situations. ROE often identify specific circumstances where the use of force is required. However, ROE do not identify every possible situation Soldiers may encounter in a counterinsurgency environment. Instead, leaders and Soldiers rely on their knowledge and understanding of ROE, and apply sound judgment, a thorough understanding of the mission, commander's intent, and operational environment, situational understanding, and sound procedures and practices to determine the level of appropriate force permitted by the ROE. Finally, leaders must balance the safety of their Soldiers with the safety of civilians.

2-72. Knowledge of the ROE itself is not sufficient to help Soldiers make informed decisions regarding the appropriate application of force. Consistent and effective application of the ROE requires extensive training and discipline to develop the judgment, depth of knowledge, skills, and procedures necessary to apply force in a counterinsurgency environment. Leaders stress basic troop leading procedures and situational-based training, comprehensive planning and rehearsals, effective precombat checks and mission-related patrol briefs, backbriefs, and debriefs. Effective communication is equally essential. Leaders must ensure that every Soldier completely understands the mission and commander's intent, and has comprehensive situational understanding at all times. The appropriate level of situational understanding, realistic training, and disciplined adherence to basic troop leading procedures equips Soldiers with the tools necessary to make informed decisions regarding the decision to use or refrain from the use of force. ROE are most effective when they are simple, clear, and able to be condensed onto a small card.



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