Rules of Engagement Demystified: A Study of the History, Development and Use of ROEs
Military Law and the Law of War Review, 53/1 (2014)
54 Pages Posted: 6 May 2015
Date Written: November 23, 2014
ROEs have long played an important role in the execution of military operations. As for most topics, a fruitful discussion of ROEs should ideally be based on a clear and common understanding of what ROEs are, where they come from, what purpose they have and how they function. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Even though there is a general understanding of what ROE are, it is difficult to find agreement on a definition of ROE, much less how they function and how they should be used for their intended purpose, namely as a tool for command and control (C2). Furthermore, there seem to be insufficient awareness around the different status and function ROEs have in differing jurisdictions. This article looks at various definitions of ROE and its legal status, before introducing the history of ROE to provide perspective on current practice. It then goes on to explain the ROE development process from a NATO perspective and how ROE function as a C2 tool. The focus will be on NATO ROEs, though information concerning ROE drafting in general will also be drawn upon to provide a more comprehensive picture.
Keywords: NATO, Rules of engagement, operational law, legal status
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