Rules Of Military Engagement Essay

830 words - 4 pages

In military engagements, the Rules of Engagement (ROE) are intended to reduce the chance of friendly fire incidents and recognize international law regarding the conduct of war, particularly the need to protect civilians, but in Vietnam they became a political tool as well.
President Lyndon Johnson had several issues he considered as he developed the rules of engagement for Vietnam. One of which was how he maintained tight control over the selection of targets for the air war, for fear that the bombing provoke the Chinese and the Soviets into a confrontation with the United States. (Moss 163). The other was how he counted on a reasonably quick and easy victory over the NLF and Hanoi. As a ...view middle of the document...

Westmoreland came up with a strategy of attrition that was to unfold over three phases. Phase one, U.S. troops would protect developing American logistics systems, Phase two, U.S. forces would eliminate the enemy’s base camps and sanctuaries, Phase three, the pacification program would be extended throughout South Vietnam. (Moss 165). Consequentially, Westmoreland had to issue rules of engagement that would make life more difficult and more dangerous for the soldiers who actually had to do the fighting.
Division commanders were high enough in the military hierarchy, and far enough removed from the battlefield, to be aware of the importance of the ROE’s and there legitimacy. However, were low enough to feel a larger connection to the men and the desire to preserve their lives and their desire for unlimited rules of engagement. Consequentially this resulted in combat units being only as effective as their methods at getting around the rules of engagement. Military commanders sought to modify the ROE to permit troops to pursue opposing forces to their destruction or until they surrendered. (Moss 177).
Battalion commanders were responsible for knowing and acting in accord with the rules of engagement. It did however, depend on what kind of force they were leading and what operations they were carrying out to determine if they viewed the ROE’s as guidelines or just completely ignored them as essentially useless. Even though both the VC and the NVA forces repeatedly violated Cambodian...

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