Law of War defines
1. that part of war that regulates the conduct of armed hostilities.
2. The purpose is to prevent unnecessary suffering, safeguard certain fundamental human rights of those involved in a conflict, and to ultimately restore peace.
Evolution and development of Law of War
1. Hague Convention of 1907
2. Geneva Convention of 1949
Principles of the Law of War
1. Military necessity
3. Avoid unnecessary suffering
1. those who are lawfully entitled to engage in hostilities. These include:
• Members of the armed forces.
• Members of a regular militia or volunteer units.
• Members of guerrilla units.
• Levee en Masse (members of a non-occupied nation who take up arms against an enemy).
2. Characteristics include:
• Wearing of a fixed and distinct uniform.
• Open carriage of arms.
• Acting under the command of a responsible leader.
• Obeying the law of war.
3. are protected under the law of war.
1. those who may accompany combatants but do not perform in that capacity. Examples include:
• Technical personnel.
• Medical personnel.
• Other civilians.
2. The law of war states that these persons may not be the
sole subjects of an attack, and warring parties must
minimize damage to any noncombatant or civilian
3. are also protected under the law of war.
1. as those who act under false pretenses in order to obtain information and communicate that information back to a hostile or potentially hostile party.
2. is not a violation of the law of war, but agents captured are prosecutable under the laws of the nation in which they are captured.
3. are not a protected partyunder the law of war.
Terrorists, Insurgents, Saboteurs, Partisans
1. are not protected by the law of war.
2. The only exception to this rule is if the parties act in line with the definition of a protected combatant, they must:
• Wear a distinguishable or distinct uniform.
• Openly carry arms.
• Act under a distinguishable leader while they themselves operate under the law of war.
Detainees and EPWs
1. All persons we detain on the battlefield, regardless of their
status, are treated the same. All detainees have rights
under the Geneva Convention that guide us in their
2. The following rules dictate our handling of detained persons:
1. Protected places are buildings or structures that are not
considered valid military targets. Examples of these structures are:
2. However, once enemy forces utilize these structures, they
become valid military objectives; for example, enemy forces
staging attacks from a hospital or an IED trigger-man
utilizing a minaret of a mosque to conduct an attack on
Weapons and Law of War
1. Lasers are only to be used for their intended use, such as marking targets and terminal guidance of munitions.
2. Small Arms Munitions The Marine Corps defines small arms ammunition as those of 40mm size and below.
3. Incendiaries are lawful as long as utilized in a manner
that does not cause unnecessary suffering.
• White phosphorus.
4. Fragmentary ammunition (such as mortars and hand grenades) is legal as long as it is not used in an illegal manner such as against a protected structure.
5. Landmines and Booby Traps - Weapons in this category (such as Claymore mines) are authorized with the premise that suffering is minimized.
6. Riot Control Agents Riot control agents (such as pepper spray and tear gas) are incapacitating agents. Presidential approval is the only authorization that allows these weapons to be used.
7. Non-lethal Weapons (such as rubber bullets and bean bag
rounds) are lawful.
8. Chemical and Biological Weapons - "treacherous means of warfare" and are prohibited under the law of war.
Tactics and the Law of War
1. is a tactic in which the actions injure the enemy as a result of legitimate deception. Examples include:
• Planting fictitious units via false information.
• Putting up dummy installations.
• False communication transmissions.
• Using a small force to simulate a larger unit.
2. are accepted under the law of war.
1. is a means of injuring the enemy through his adherence to the law of war.
2. An example would be feigning, such as faking injury or truce in order to lure enemy into range to engage. Misuse of the Red Cross or any other noncombatant organization is also classified as a form of treachery.
3. is a violation of the law of war.
1. is the act of specifically targeting a predominant person, usually an important political figure, to kill.
2. Under the law of war, targeting military leadership is legal; however, killing of purely civilian heads of state is prohibited.
1. is a like response to an illegal attack, such as a chemical response to a chemical attack. By definition, this act is supposed to get the enemy to adhere to the law of war.
2. This act is prohibited under the law of war.
Implications and Training Marines
1. Implications as a result of lack of training or blatant violation can have tremendous effects on a unit. The potential repercussions are immeasurable.
2. We must further empower subordinate unit leaders to continue the training at their levels. The purpose of such training is to reinforce self-discipline.
Three functions of ROE
(1) Provide guidance from the President and Secretary of Defense to deployed units on the use of force for mission accomplishment and the exercise of the inherent right and obligation of unit self-defense;
(2) Act as a control mechanism for the transition from peacetime to combat operations (war); and
(3) Provide a mechanism to facilitate planning and training.
ROE framework encompass
1. national policy goals
2. mission requirements
3. rule of law
Purposes of ROE
ROE ensure that national policy and objectives are reflected in the action of commanders in the field, particularly under circumstances in which communication with higher authority is not possible.
ROE provide parameters within which the commander must
operate in order to accomplish its assigned mission:
• ROE provide a ceiling on operations and ensure that U.S. actions do not trigger an undesired response or escalation.
• ROE may regulate a commander's means and method of warfare by granting or withholding the authority to use certain weapons, weapons system, or tactics.
• ROE may also reemphasize the scope of the mission. Units deployed overseas for training exercises may be limited to use of force only in self defense, reinforcing the training rather than combat nature of the mission.
ROE provide restraints on commander's actions consistent
with both domestic and international law and may, under
certain circumstances, impose greater restrictions on action
than those required by the law.
Global objectives of ROE and National Security
• Deterring armed attack against the US across the range of military operations.
• Defeating an attack should deterrence fail.
• Preventing or neutralizing hostile efforts to intimidate or coerce the US by the threat or use of armed force or terrorist actions.
US policy, should deterrence fail, provides flexibility to respond to crises with options that:
• Are proportional to the provocation.
• Are designed to limit the scope and intensity of the conflict.
• Will discourage escalation.
• Will achieve political and military objectives.
Standing ROE (SROE) for US Forces
-is a SECRET document and not available for public distribution. Portions of the introductory material are not classified as SECRET and may be available at your unit for training purposes.
1. The rules - provides guidance on the inherent right of self-defense and the application of force for mission accomplishment.
2. Applicability - applies to all U.S. forces responding to military attacks within the US, to all military operations outside the US, and to domestic support operations.
3. Responsiblity - The Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) approves ROE for US forces
4. Purpose - is twofold:
o Provide implementation guidance on the application of force for mission accomplishment, and
o Ensure the proper exercise of the inherent right of self-defense.
Deviations from the SROE
1. US Forces Operating with Multinational Forces
o US forces assigned to the operational control (OPCON) or tactical control (TACON) of a multinational force
o Varying national obligations derived from international agreements may complicate participation in multinational operations.
o US forces remain bound by US treaty obligations even if the other coalition members are not signatories to a treaty and need not adhere to its terms.
o Commanders of US forces subject to international agreements governing their presence in foreign countries (e.g., Status of Forces Agreements) must still exercise the
inherent authority and obligation to use all necessary means available and to take all appropriate action for unit self-defense.
o US forces will always comply with the Law of Armed Conflict (also called the "Law of War").
2. Theater-Specific ROE
oThe SROE may be modified as necessary to reflect changing political and military policies, threats, and missions specific to a specific area of operations.
o There are two main types of modifications to the
− Those that require combatant commander approval or higher.
- Those that allow commanders to place further restrictions on the SROE for specific actions.These types of changes require that notification of the restriction is sent to the
o Any commander may request supplemental ROE. All requests, approvals, and notifications should be done by serialized message to ensure proper tracking of the current ROE.
1. Inherent Right of Self-Defense - A 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 US forces in the vicinity from a hostile act or a demonstration of hostile intent.
2. Three levels of self-defense
a. National - The act of defending from a hostile act or hostile intent that is committed against:
− The US.
− US forces.
− In certain circumstances, US citizens and their property, and US commercial assets.
b. Collective -
− The act of defending other designated non-US forces, personnel, or designated foreign nationals and their property from a hostile act or demonstration of hostile intent.
− Only the President of the US/SECDEF may authorize US forces to exercise collective self defense.
c. Unit and individual - includes defense of other U.S. military forces in the vicinity. If a commander decides to exercise the right to "restrict" the individual right of self defense, SECDEF must be notified.
Three Principles of Self-Defense
1. Necessity - Exists when a "hostile act" occurs or a force or
terrorist(s) exhibits "hostile intent".
a. Hostile Act - An attack or other use of force against
b. Hostile Intent - The threat of imminent use of force against
2. De-escalate -
• When time and circumstances permit,
• Warn and give opportunity to withdraw.
3. Proportionality - Force used should be sufficient to respond
decisively to the hostile act or demonstrated hostile intent and ensure the continued safety of US forces or other protected persons or property.
Hostile Force (SROE)
Any civilian, paramilitary, or military force or terrorist(s), that
has been declared hostile by appropriate US authority.
Positive ID (PID) -- is it required, needed, useful?
1. is required for applies for some purposes of mission accomplishment (e.g., engaging a declared hostile force),
2. but not in cases of self-defense (e.g., force used in response to a hostile act or demonstrated hostile intent).
Responsibility for Training ROE
Commanders are responsible for developing and issuing ROE. Commanders have the obligation to ensure that the individuals within that commander's unit understand when and how they may use force in self-defense.
Techniques for Training ROE
- the most effective methods of training Marines in
ROE are discussion groups, scenario based training, and the use of pocket cards.
• Marines should be questioned on their understanding of key terms such as hostile act, hostile intent, self-defense, and hostile force.
• Pocket cards are a good memorization tool, but should not be used as a replacement for training. Train until the ROE are second nature and instinct to them.
Supplemental ROE Card (CFLCC ROE CARD)
1. Attack enemy forces and military targets.
2. Spare civilian and civilian property, if possible.
3. Conduct yourself with dignity and honor.
4. Comply with the Law of War. If you see a violation, report it.
- These ROE will remain in effect until your commander orders you to transition to post hostilities ROE.
Nine Rules of LOAC (Law of Armed Conflict)
1. Marine fight only enemy combatants
2. Treat humanely all EN soldiers who surrender or captured
3. Do not kill or torture detainee personnel
4. Collect and care for the wounded
5. Do not attack protected persons or places
6. Destroy no more than the mission requires
7. Respect private property and possessions
8. Treat all civilian humanely
9. Do their best to prevent LOAC violations and report violations to their superiors