Rules of engagement

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Rules of Engagement for Operation Provide Relief, 1992.

Rules of Engagement (ROE) are rules or directives to military forces (including individuals) that define the circumstances, conditions, degree, and manner in which force, or actions which might be construed as provocative, may be applied.[1] They provide authorization for and/or limits on, among other things, the use of force and the employment of certain specific capabilities. In some nations, ROE have the status of guidance to military forces, while in other nations, ROE are lawful commands. Rules of Engagement do not normally dictate how a result is to be achieved but will indicate what measures may be unacceptable.[2]

While ROE are used in both domestic and international operations by most militaries, in the United States, ROE are not used for domestic operations. Instead, use of force by US forces in such situations is governed by Rules for the Use of Force (RUF).

An abbreviated description of the Rules of Engagement may be issued to all personnel. Commonly referred to as an "ROE Card", this document provides the soldier with a summary of the ROE regulating the use of force for a particular mission.[3]

Authoritative sources[edit]

While many countries have their own rules of engagement documents, many others do not. There are two primary international rules of engagement manuals that are internationally available; NATO Special Forces ROE Manual MC 362-1, and the San Remo Rules of Engagement Handbook. Both are publicly available. Created for the IIHL by Commander Alan Cole, Major Phillip Drew, Captain Rob McLaughlin and Professor Dennis Mandsager, the San Remo ROE Handbook has been translated from its English original into French, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, Hungarian, Russian, Bosnian, and Thai.[4] Several countries have used the San Remo handbook as a model for creating their own ROE systems.[citation needed]


The International Institute of Humanitarian Law in San Remo, Italy conducts a Rules of Engagement training course at least once per year, usually in September. Taught by some of the world's foremost authorities on ROE, the course attracts students from around the globe. Similar training by the San Remo ROE drafting team is conducted for the United Nations, the IMO and other organizations as requested.


A first lieutenant in the U.S. Army named Clint Lorance was found guilty of two counts of second-degree murder in July 2013 for ordering soldiers in his unit in Afghanistan to open fire on three men on a motorcycle who were approaching his patrol. These actions were deemed to violate the Rules of Engagement. His sentence includes 20 years in prison, forfeiture of all pay and dismissal from the U.S. Army.[5]

Seven UK Royal Marines were arrested on suspicion of murder for their actions in slaying a badly-wounded Taliban enemy in October 2012.[6] In November 2013 one soldier, known as 'Marine A', was convicted, while two others were acquitted.[7] Marine A was heard to utter after he performed the act: 'Obviously this doesn't go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.'[7]


  1. ^ NATO MC 362/1
  2. ^ Cole, Drew, McLaughlin, Mandsager, San Remo Rules of Engagement Handbook (San Remo: International Institute for Humanitarian Law, 2009)
  3. ^ Cole, Drew, McLaughlin, Mandsager, San Remo Rules of Engagement Handbook (San Remo: International Institute for Humanitarian Law, 2009)p.71
  4. ^
  5. ^ Army officer gets 20 years' jail for murder after he ordered troops to open fire on Afghan men approaching their checkpoint - but his lawyers say he was protecting platoon by David Mccormack and Helen Pow 1 August 2013 Daily Mail
  6. ^ "Royal Marine Arrests Prompted By Laptop Video" 12 Oct 2012
  7. ^ a b "Royal Marine is convicted of murder of Taliban insurgent who was shot in the chest at close range - but two comrades are CLEARED" 8 Nov 2013