British Rules of Engagement in Afghanistan

These are defined on “Card A” and must be obeyed by all British Forces in all engagements in Afghanistan.

When you read them, the comment made by John Reid when he committed 3,300 more troops to the conflict in January 2006 that “We would be perfectly happy to leave in three years and without firing one shot because our job is to protect the reconstruction” does make slightly more sense, even if it seems no more realistic.

Rules of Engagement

  • Firearms must only be used as a last resort in protection of human life. You are only to open fire against a person if he/she is committing or about to commit an act likely to endanger human life and there is no other way of stopping it.
  • A challenge MUST be given before opening fire unless to do so would increase the risk of death or grave injury to you or any other person other than the attacker(s).
  • If you have to open fire only fire aimed shots, fire no more rounds than are necessary, take all reasonable precautions not to injure anyone other than your target.
  • This guidance does not affect your inherent right to self-defence. However in all situations you are to use no more force than absolutely necessary.

This is all very well and good but when you are actually under fire or in the middle of ambush it is all so much bull**t. How on earth any soldier is supposed to determine how much force is necessary when half the time he can’t even see the insurgents who are firing on him is beyond me.

I have taken these rules, verbatum, from pages 143 and 144 of Task Force Helmand by Doug Beattie MC. Read the book, it’s fantastic, but please also let me know if any of these are wrong or there are other rules I’m not aware of.

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