View Full Version : Rules of Engagement and Non-Lethal Weapons: A Deadly Combination?

06-10-04, 10:07 AM
Rules of Engagement and Non-Lethal Weapons: A Deadly Combination?

CSC 1997

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.



06-10-04, 10:12 AM
Is this anything like the 2x4 to the side of the head comment in another post? :)