CHIEFS OF STAFF
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (cont)
Right of Self-Defense.
commander has the authority and obligation to use all necessary means available
and to take all appropriate action to defend that commander's unit and other
U.S. forces in the vicinity from a hostile act or demonstrated hostile intent.
Neither these rules nor the supplemental measures activated to augment these
rules limit this inherent right and obligation. At all times, however, the
requirements of necessity and proportionality as amplified in these SROE will
be the basis for the judgment of the commander as to what constitutes an appropriate
response to a particular hostile act or demonstration of hostile intent.
self-defense is the act of defending the United States, U.S. forces, and, in
certain circumstances, U.S. citizens and their property, U.S. commercial assets,
and other designated non-U.S. forces, foreign nationals and their property,
from a hostile act or hostile intent. Once a force or terrorist unit is declared
hostile by appropriate authority exercising the right and obligation of national
self-defense (see paragraph 2 of Appendix A to Enclosure A), individual U.S.
units do not need to observe a hostile act or determine hostile intent before
engaging that force.
a subset of national self-defense, is the act of defending other designated
non-U.S. forces, personnel and their property from a hostile act or demonstration
of hostile intent. Only the NCA may authorize U.S. forces to exercise collective
self-defense is the act of defending a particular unit of U.S. forces, including
elements or personnel thereof, and other U.S. forces in the vicinity, against
a hostile act or hostile intent. The need to exercise unit self-defense may
arise in many situations such as localized low-level conflicts, humanitarian
efforts, peace enforcement actions, terrorist response, or prolonged engagements.
Individual self-defense is a subset of unit self-defense: see the Glossary
for a definition of individual self-defense.
application of armed force in self-defense requires the following two elements:
hostile act occurs or a force or terrorist unit exhibits hostile intent.
force used must be reasonable in intensity, duration, and magnitude, based
on all facts known to the commander at the time, to decisively counter the
hostile act or hostile intent and to ensure the continued safety of U.S. forces.
hostile act is an attack or other use of force by a foreign force or terrorist
unit (organization or individual) against the United States, U.S. forces, and
in certain circumstance, U.S. citizens, their property, U.S. commercial assets,
and other designated non-U.S. forces, foreign nationals and their property.
It is also force used directly to preclude or impede the mission and/or duties
of U.S. forces, including the recovery of U.S. personnel and U.S. government
property. When a hostile act is in progress, the right exists to use proportional
force, including armed force, in self-defense by all necessary means available
to deter or neutralize the potential attacker or, if necessary, to destroy
the threat. (See definitions in the Glossary for amplification.)
intent is the threat of imminent use of force by a foreign force or terrorist
unit (organization or individual) against the United States, U.S. forces, and
in certain circumstances, U.S. citizens, their property, U.S. commercial assets,
or other designated non-U.S. forces, foreign nationals and their property.
When hostile intent is present, the right exists to use proportional force,
including armed force, in self-defense by all necessary means available to
deter or neutralize the potential attacker or, if necessary, to destroy the
threat. (See definitions in the Glossary for amplification.)
force or terrorist unit (civilian, paramilitary, or military), with or without
national designation, that has committed a hostile act, demonstrated hostile
intent, or has been declared hostile.
a force is declared hostile by appropriate authority, U.S. units need not observe
a hostile act or a demonstration of hostile intent before engaging that force.
The responsibility for exercising the right and obligation of national self-defense
and declaring a force hostile is a matter of the utmost importance demanding
considerable judgement of command. All available intelligence, the status of
political decision, and the potential consequences for the United States must
be carefully weighed. Exercising the right and obligation of national self-defense
by competent authority is in addition to and does not supplant the right and
obligation to exercise unit self-defense. The authority to declare a force
hostile is limited as amplified in Appendix A to Enclosure A.
to Exercise Self-Defense.
authority to exercise national self-defense is outlined in Appendix A to Enclosure
the NCA may authorize the exercise of collective self-defense.
unit commander has the authority and obligation to use all necessary means
available and to take all appropriate action to defend the unit, including
elements and personnel thereof, or other U.S. forces in the vicinity, against
a hostile act or hostile intent. In defending against a hostile act or hostile
intent under these SROE, unit commanders should use only that degree of force
necessary to decisively counter the hostile intent and to ensure the continued
safety of U.S. forces.
necessary means available and all appropriate actions may be used in self-defense.
The following guidelines apply for unit or national self-defense:
to Control Without the Use of Force.
use of force is normally a measure of last resort. When time and circumstances
permit, the potentially hostile force should be warned and given the opportunity
to withdraw or cease threatening actions. (See Appendix A to Enclosure A for
Proportional Force to Control the Situation.
the use of force in self-defense is necessary, the nature, duration, and scope
of the engagement should not exceed that which is required to decisively counter
the hostile act or hostile intent and to ensure the continued safety of U.S.
forces or other protected personnel or property.
to Disable or Destroy.
attack to disable or destroy a hostile force is authorized when such action
is the only prudent means which a hostile act or hostile intent can be prevented
or terminated. When such conditions exist, engagement is authorized only until
the hostile force no longer poses an imminent threat.
Pursuit of Hostile Foreign Forces.
self-defense, U.S. forces may pursue and engage a hostile force that has committed
a hostile act or demonstrated hostile intent and that remains an imminent threat.
(See Appendix A to Enclosure A for amplification.)
U.S. Citizens, Property, and Designated Foreign Nationals.
a Foreign Nation's U.S. Recognized Territory or Territorial Airspace.
foreign nation has the principal responsibility for defending U.S. citizens
and property within these areas. (See Appendix A to Enclosure A for amplification.)
guidance is contained in Annex A to Appendix B of this enclosure.
civil aircraft in international airspace is principally the responsibility
of the nation of registry. Guidance for certain cases of actual or suspected
hijacking of airborne U.S. or foreign civil aircraft is contained in MCM-102-92,
24 July 1992, Hijacking of Civil Aircraft.
attacks are usually undertaken by civilian or paramilitary organizations, or
by individuals under circumstances in which a determination of hostile intent
may be difficult. The definitions of hostile act and hostile intent set forth
above will be used in situations where terrorist attacks are likely. The term
"hostile force" includes terrorist units when used in this document. When circumstances
and intelligence dictate, supplemental ROE will be used to meet this special
is defined as an illegal act of violence, depredation (i.e., plundering, robbing,
or pillaging), or detention in or over international waters committed for private
ends by the crew or passengers of a private ship or aircraft against another
ship or aircraft or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft.
U.S. warships and aircraft have an obligation to repress piracy on or over
international waters directed against the vessel or aircraft fleeing from pursuit
proceeds into the territorial sea, archipelagic waters, or superjacent airspace
of another country every effort should be made to obtain the consent of nation
sovereignty to continue pursuit. Where circumstances permit, commanders will
seek guidance from higher authority before using armed force to repress an
act of piracy.
Within or in the Vicinity of Hostile Fire or Combat Zones Not Involving the
(1) U.S. forces should not enter, or remain in, a zone in which hostilities
(not involving the United States) are imminent or occurring between foreign
forces unless directed by proper authority.
(2) If a force commits a hostile act or demonstrates hostile intent
against U.S. forces in a hostile fire or combat zone, the commander is obligated
to act in unit self-defense in accordance with SROE guidelines.
of Assistance Entry.
(1) Ships, or under certain circumstances aircraft, have the right
to enter a foreign territorial sea or archipelagic waters and corresponding
airspace without the permission of the coastal or island state to engage in
legitimate efforts to render emergency assistance to those in danger or distress
from perils of the sea.
(2) Right of assistance extends only to rescues where the location of
those in danger is reasonably well known. It does not extend to entering the
territorial sea, archipelagic waters, or national airspace to conduct a search.
(3) For ships and aircraft rendering assistance on scene, the right
and obligation of self-defense extends to and includes persons, vessels, or
aircraft being assisted. The right of self-defense in such circumstances does
not include interference with legitimate law enforcement actions of a coastal
nation. However, once received on board the assisting ship or aircraft, persons
assisted will not be surrendered to foreign authority unless directed by the
(4) Further guidance for the exercise of the right of assistance entry
is contained in CJCS
Instruction 2410.01, 20 July 1993,
for the Exercise of Right of Assistance Entry.
A, Part 1
B: A Soldier's Task: Use Force Appropriately
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