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ROE's and Tactical Dogma Unintended Consequences

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ROE's and Tactical Dogma Unintended Consequences

Old 7th May 2022, 16:07
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ROE's and Tactical Dogma Unintended Consequences

Nutty made this post in an on-going thread and while looking for the linked video it gave me reason to think back on the subject of the video....that being an ass kicking the US Army took near Kabala one night when a fleet of AH-64 Apaches encountered a very strong and innovative defense by the Iraqi's.


Sasless have you watched this? https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/80216003

Bar being a total screw up in many ways, it struck me the female in the front of one of them wasn't giving her pilot accurate situation information... she could see the rounds coming at them, where as he couldn't and she seemed not to grasp the idea of telling him from where and the direction.. it was compounded by the stupidity of telling the crews before the off their footage would be gone through with surgical precision to ensure they only engaged active targets, thus making them second guess themselves whether to open fire or not, even when taking rounds they were asking should I fire?
The "rest of the story" about that night is very interesting....how the Iraqi's improvised their tactics to counter the US Army use of darkness....using Cellphones and a unified control of surface lighting to expose the hovering Apaches......an American Tactic coming from its employment strategy countering Russian Armor moving through the Fulda Gap in Germany.

Add to that the insistence upon strict adherence to the published ROE's which granted little or no discretion to the Army Crews.

If we take an honest look back over time....we can see other similar failures to abandon poor tactical concepts that in peace time are foreseen (falsely) to be the way of the future.

Those failures lead to loss of life and equipment.

I saw first hand how that could work while flying helicopters in Vietnam....back during the early days of "Air Mobile Operations" which morphed into "Air Assault" with mottos like "Death From Above" and "Land On Top Of The Enemy".

Landing formations of helicopter right smack dab on top of well armed, well prepared, aggressive and dedicated enemy troop formations.....now whatever could possibly go wrong with that kind of thing?

Another example was this Apache Raid that went so wrong.....early on here at this Forum I admonished our Apache Drivers to rethink the Hover and Shoot Tactic....as it might have its place in the Tool Box....but it would not be how a War in the Desert would be fought and be successful and that in time they would find themselves returning to the old fashioned "Shoot and Scoot" method of doing Gun Runs while being provided covering fire from Wingmates more often than they would employ the Hover and Shoot method.

The RAF learned low level high speed runs dropping bombs on Runways came at a very high cost and it would alter its tactics to going back to mid-level heights and cut their losses as a result.

Not so long ago we had a thread about American efforts to drop some bridges in North Vietnam, all of which failed, until Precision Bombs were invented then the bridge got dropped and aircraft losses were prevented.

Today in Ukraine we see the Russians struggling to cope with a very dedicated and innovative Ukraine Military.

The lack of foresight and demonstrated inability of Military Forces to see the fallibility in its planning for future wars is not limited to any one Nation or single branch of the Armed Forces.

It does make you wonder why we see it time after time.....and pay such a price in Lives and Equipment.
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Old 7th May 2022, 17:56
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Comes under the military library shelf section "Why do Generals always fight the last war?"

Also makes me wonder if killing off the Russian Generals is actually a good thing for the Ukraine Military. If they are failing, leave them to get on with it.

N
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Old 7th May 2022, 18:00
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Is that not a throwback to WWII where Churchill decided Hitler was the German General best fit for command of all German Troops.
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Old 7th May 2022, 19:16
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Depends on who is doing the killing of those generals , I doubt the stories about the USA supplying intel are true . The stories are being spread by unreliable sources (new pork times owned by foreigners ) that have an interest in seeing America dragged into another debt crushing forever war that would weaken America further by wasting more blood and treasure in a foreign country . It is more probable that those generals and senior officers were fragged by troops with no interest of being martyred for Mother Russia and those ruling rich oligarchs and their yachty friends . Makes more sense that the Russians CNC is being fragged by troops that are excluded from the spoils of the new Russian economy. While the super nouveau rich are heading for their bunkers in Sochi, these sad sacks are being fed to a meat grinder .
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Old 7th May 2022, 23:14
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
Nutty made this post in an on-going thread and while looking for the linked video it gave me reason to think back on the subject of the video....that being an ass kicking the US Army took near Kabala one night when a fleet of AH-64 Apaches encountered a very strong and innovative defense by the Iraqi's.




The "rest of the story" about that night is very interesting....how the Iraqi's improvised their tactics to counter the US Army use of darkness....using Cellphones and a unified control of surface lighting to expose the hovering Apaches......an American Tactic coming from its employment strategy countering Russian Armor moving through the Fulda Gap in Germany.

Add to that the insistence upon strict adherence to the published ROE's which granted little or no discretion to the Army Crews.

If we take an honest look back over time....we can see other similar failures to abandon poor tactical concepts that in peace time are foreseen (falsely) to be the way of the future.

Those failures lead to loss of life and equipment.

I saw first hand how that could work while flying helicopters in Vietnam....back during the early days of "Air Mobile Operations" which morphed into "Air Assault" with mottos like "Death From Above" and "Land On Top Of The Enemy".

Landing formations of helicopter right smack dab on top of well armed, well prepared, aggressive and dedicated enemy troop formations.....now whatever could possibly go wrong with that kind of thing?

Another example was this Apache Raid that went so wrong.....early on here at this Forum I admonished our Apache Drivers to rethink the Hover and Shoot Tactic....as it might have its place in the Tool Box....but it would not be how a War in the Desert would be fought and be successful and that in time they would find themselves returning to the old fashioned "Shoot and Scoot" method of doing Gun Runs while being provided covering fire from Wingmates more often than they would employ the Hover and Shoot method.

The RAF learned low level high speed runs dropping bombs on Runways came at a very high cost and it would alter its tactics to going back to mid-level heights and cut their losses as a result.

Not so long ago we had a thread about American efforts to drop some bridges in North Vietnam, all of which failed, until Precision Bombs were invented then the bridge got dropped and aircraft losses were prevented.

Today in Ukraine we see the Russians struggling to cope with a very dedicated and innovative Ukraine Military.

The lack of foresight and demonstrated inability of Military Forces to see the fallibility in its planning for future wars is not limited to any one Nation or single branch of the Armed Forces.

It does make you wonder why we see it time after time.....and pay such a price in Lives and Equipment.
Hindsight acuity is much better than foresight. The ability to learn from early results and innovate tactics mid-conflict is essential. Linebacker in 1972 is another classic example.
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Old 8th May 2022, 08:21
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"The stories are being spread by unreliable sources (new pork times owned by foreigners )"

False News


The paper is owned by The New York Times Company, which is publicly traded. It has been governed by the Sulzberger family since 1896, through a dual-class share structure after its shares became publicly traded.[12]A. G. Sulzberger and his father, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.—the paper's publisher and the company's chairman, respectively—are the fifth and fourth generation of the family to head the paper."

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Old 8th May 2022, 09:50
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Originally Posted by fitliker View Post
Depends on who is doing the killing of those generals , I doubt the stories about the USA supplying intel are true . The stories are being spread by unreliable sources (new pork times owned by foreigners ) that have an interest in seeing America dragged into another debt crushing forever war that would weaken America further by wasting more blood and treasure in a foreign country . It is more probable that those generals and senior officers were fragged by troops with no interest of being martyred for Mother Russia and those ruling rich oligarchs and their yachty friends . Makes more sense that the Russians CNC is being fragged by troops that are excluded from the spoils of the new Russian economy. While the super nouveau rich are heading for their bunkers in Sochi, these sad sacks are being fed to a meat grinder .
When you get to headquarter level, there are very few troops who would be at risk of going to the actual front.
These guys have been taken out by poor skills. Positioning of a HQ in an obvious location / tent village, very very poor comm sec, antenna location these are all telegraphing positions that Ukrainian operators are looking for, with assistance from third parties and probably civilian assets.
Losing Generals is bad for moral across the board and helps galvanise the Ukrainian war effort knowing that the job they are doing is of real benefit.
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Old 8th May 2022, 09:55
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Originally Posted by Spunky Monkey View Post
Losing Generals is bad for moral across the board and helps galvanise the Ukrainian war effort knowing that the job they are doing is of real benefit.
In some cases, it may improve morale among the troops, but it's probably not going to be good for fighting a war.

Last edited by T28B; 8th May 2022 at 17:53. Reason: fix quote
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Old 8th May 2022, 10:00
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
The RAF learned low level high speed runs dropping bombs on Runways came at a very high cost and it would alter its tactics to going back to mid-level heights and cut their losses as a result.
In no way do I wish to undermine your excellent post but this example you use is quoted often and yet it is not true. It has become folklore.

For accuracy, the RAF was well aware of where and when this option was viable and the weapon (JP233) had a target set that included major rail switching yards, electrical infrastructure and alike, with software to suit, as well as typical Cold War runways.

Although the US specifically asked for this weapon to be used in GW1 due to the multiple and very large ready-made airbases that could be activated and where the extended denial period offered by this weapon was advantageous. They did not task the runways specifically and left the denial method to the RAF planning team, who chose to target the taxiway intersections that linked the various HAS sites to the main airfield, rather than attack the massive runways on a set direction.

Regarding actual losses whilst attacking airfields in this way, there were none. Other weapons were also used to attack airfields, even on the first night. There were TF-Loft-TF attacks by night using up to 8x KFF (it is referred to as Loft, as that is what is printed on the button; it is actually a Toss profile). One of these 'gutsy' night attack profiles was delayed to the point that it became a broad daylight attack by a 4-ship of 15 Sqn jets. Gutsy became balls-of-steel but all 4 aircraft made it to the target and 3 of the 4 flew the full attack profile and made it back. Incredible.

One Tornado crew made a not uncommon switch error where a single press button is forced to do 2 different things by pressing it twice, rather than once or not at all. What possibly could go wrong... the aircraft attack system dutifully dropped from the HUD when the aircraft was at the most vulnerable position - high and slow. A daylight-only SA-16 and 23mm did the rest.

The move, for some aircraft, to medium level ops came when air superiority rapidly became air supremacy. For the Tornado GR1 fleet the change of profile with ever-delayed targeting pod fiasco left them with no accurate method to deliver weapons from medium level. High-angle dive and even level dumb bomb drops were employed whilst the targeting pod capability was rapidly lashed together. Medium level also brought systems such as the venerable SA-2 into play. By the end of the war the total low-level vs high threat early losses were matched by the medium level losses.

It is also worth mentioning that the Tornado was not the only RAF attack aircraft deployed and the marked switch from low to medium level did not happen to the same extent. It is also worth noting that 2 Tornado GR squadrons (II (AC) & 13 Sqn) continued with pure night low-level sorties throughout the war, with no losses. The Tornado GR losses included self-frag (fuse issue), impact with terrain (no confirmed cause) and aircraft undertaking JP233 missions that were shot down well away from the target.

JP233 remained in service post-GW1, as did the possible use against airfields and the other target sets. The wave of politics and activism against cluster munitions saw half the payload munitions withdrawn before common sense and replacement capabilities removed the rest. Low level ops remained in use by the RAF, USAF etc, long after GW1.

Again, not undermining your excellent post but just showing that excellent folklore can as easily degrade degrade tactics, RoE and operational capability too.

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Old 8th May 2022, 11:10
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I stand corrected on that ....and thank you for your response....myths need unwinding.

Not being directly involved leaves one subject to being a victim of a false narrative.

I tip my Hat to the people that are out there amongst them risking their all when the playing the games for "Keeps".

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Old 8th May 2022, 12:01
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I think two different things arise from the initial post. ROEs and tactical freedom are completely different.
The ROEs would be changed at ministerial level i believe, tactical freedom all the way down the chain.
From my observations of ASW, the Americans and their P3s had very little tactical freedom and always ran by their playbook at the expense of loosing the target, then Nimrod fleet was allowed more freedom as long as you got the right outcome, you might have to answer afterwards if the reverse were true. Our tactics manual was guidance, very little direct orders in there and that suited the way Brit forces operated.
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Old 8th May 2022, 13:32
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
Nutty made this post in an on-going thread and while looking for the linked video it gave me reason to think back on the subject of the video....that being an ass kicking the US Army took near Kabala one night when a fleet of AH-64 Apaches encountered a very strong and innovative defense by the Iraqi's.




The "rest of the story" about that night is very interesting....how the Iraqi's improvised their tactics to counter the US Army use of darkness....using Cellphones and a unified control of surface lighting to expose the hovering Apaches......an American Tactic coming from its employment strategy countering Russian Armor moving through the Fulda Gap in Germany.

Add to that the insistence upon strict adherence to the published ROE's which granted little or no discretion to the Army Crews.

If we take an honest look back over time....we can see other similar failures to abandon poor tactical concepts that in peace time are foreseen (falsely) to be the way of the future.

Those failures lead to loss of life and equipment.

I saw first hand how that could work while flying helicopters in Vietnam....back during the early days of "Air Mobile Operations" which morphed into "Air Assault" with mottos like "Death From Above" and "Land On Top Of The Enemy".

Landing formations of helicopter right smack dab on top of well armed, well prepared, aggressive and dedicated enemy troop formations.....now whatever could possibly go wrong with that kind of thing?

Another example was this Apache Raid that went so wrong.....early on here at this Forum I admonished our Apache Drivers to rethink the Hover and Shoot Tactic....as it might have its place in the Tool Box....but it would not be how a War in the Desert would be fought and be successful and that in time they would find themselves returning to the old fashioned "Shoot and Scoot" method of doing Gun Runs while being provided covering fire from Wingmates more often than they would employ the Hover and Shoot method.

The RAF learned low level high speed runs dropping bombs on Runways came at a very high cost and it would alter its tactics to going back to mid-level heights and cut their losses as a result.

Not so long ago we had a thread about American efforts to drop some bridges in North Vietnam, all of which failed, until Precision Bombs were invented then the bridge got dropped and aircraft losses were prevented.

Today in Ukraine we see the Russians struggling to cope with a very dedicated and innovative Ukraine Military.

The lack of foresight and demonstrated inability of Military Forces to see the fallibility in its planning for future wars is not limited to any one Nation or single branch of the Armed Forces.

It does make you wonder why we see it time after time.....and pay such a price in Lives and Equipment.
Reflecting on the original dit with the AH crew struggling with the target ID and returning of fire, I think one possible reason for the confusion/delay was the surprise element of being on a two way range for the first time/first time in a while (ie experience/skill fade).

Having been sat in the back of a Chinook on a night HAF, watching the tracer going past the windows opposite and then looking out of the window over my shoulder and seeing the red dots zipping towards us a few of us were wondering why the door guns weren't singing in response. I was on the air freq and the AH escort was calling out the targets and sending 30mm the other way but there was a delay of what seemed like forever (probably only 15-30 seconds in reality) before the Ch crews began shooting back. Knock it off was given at a couple of hundred ft AGL and we RTB'd for the AAR. The Ch crews were new in Th and I think that may have been the main factor for the delayed response.

I had been in Th for months at that point and it wasn't my first tour so was entirely comfortable with the RoE, having been engaged on a weekly basis every week since arriving. Whilst it was frustrating the element of surprise had been lost and we would have to replan for another Op into the area at a later date, I was sympathetic to the crew, remembering my first contact where my oppo and I were literally standing there wondering if it was actually us being shot at, despite the cracks and splashes in the immediate surroundings.

It's quite easy to become complacent in training because it's rare for the Blue forces to "lose". TESEX in BATUS for example is usually the first time commanders have to consider combat effectiveness as they find their troops taking "casualties" in real time.

I think the next lesson to be (re)learnt will be what happens if we get into a shooting war where we don't have a dedicated MERT and Role 3 within 30 minutes of the FEBA.
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Old 8th May 2022, 14:17
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Speaking of my time in a different place.....each Morning in our preflight brief of the crew....I was required to read from a pretty yellow laminated card to the rear cabin crew that dictated our ROE for using our Door Guns on the Chinook.

Short version was we...Me the Aircraft Commander and the Door Gunners had to know the location of the all of the friendlies, the location of the bad guys, the exact location from which the ground fire was coming from, and our aircraft be in imminent risk of sever damage, loss, or injury or death to the Crew and/or Passengers.....and after being informed of their part.....I had to give the Order to Return fire and limit it to only that absolutely required.

All that sounds good on paper.

Reality is quite different.

I was adamant the Gunners should know where the threat was and that there were no good guys in the way....and if we were taking Hits from that ground fire.....they should get a Smoke out.....and fire at the bad guys up and tell me which way to go to evade the hostile fire being directed at us.

I still firmly believe M-60/M-240 7.62 Machine Guns on a Chinook are just a form of psychological warfare....it does squat to hurt the enemy....but makes the Chinook Crew feel better.

Mini-Guns on the other hand....now that is a different story.

Generally in my time our dangerous engagements were close to the ground on take off or landing....as anything could hit us and in the jungle...would be very close to us.

Enoroute our concerns were with.51's and the occasional 20mm....until later in the war then it all changed with bigger guns some with radar and the SA-7 showing up.

Yes we want to avoid harming innocents....and should do our best....but there has never been an "immaculate" War fought in history.

In my thinking, losing friendly troops should not be a direct by-product of ROE's ever.

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Old 8th May 2022, 14:25
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
Speaking of my time in a different place.....each Morning in our preflight brief of the crew....I was required to read from a pretty yellow laminated card to the rear cabin crew that dictated our ROE for using our Door Guns on the Chinook.

Short version was we...Me the Aircraft Commander and the Door Gunners had to know the location of the all of the friendlies, the location of the bad guys, the exact location from which the ground fire was coming from, and our aircraft be in imminent risk of sever damage, loss, or injury or death to the Crew and/or Passengers.....and after being informed of their part.....I had to give the Order to Return fire and limit it to only that absolutely required.

All that sounds good on paper.

Reality is quite different.

I was adamant the Gunners should know where the threat was and that there were no good guys in the way....and if we were taking Hits from that ground fire.....they should get a Smoke out.....and fire at the bad guys up and tell me which way to go to evade the hostile fire being directed at us.

I still firmly believe M-60/M-240 7.62 Machine Guns on a Chinook are just a form of psychological warfare....it does squat to hurt the enemy....but makes the Chinook Crew feel better.

Mini-Guns on the other hand....now that is a different story.

Generally in my time our dangerous engagements were close to the ground on take off or landing....as anything could hit us and in the jungle...would be very close to us.

Enoroute our concerns were with.51's and the occasional 20mm....until later in the war then it all changed with bigger guns some with radar and the SA-7 showing up.

Yes we want to avoid harming innocents....and should do our best....but there has never been an "immaculate" War fought in history.

In my thinking, losing friendly troops should not be a direct by-product of ROE's ever.
Interesting, thanks for sharing.

I assume the requirement for Comd auth to engage was for anything outside of Card Alpha though?

Ref 7.62, inclined to agree but anything coming back at an attacking force provides some suppression, provided it's accurate and effective.
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Old 8th May 2022, 18:14
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No command approval required, sought, or desired.

The Rules were clearcut....simple...direct...and the decision was left up to the Aircraft Commander.....remembering ours was a Transport Helicopter and not a Gunship.

I cannot speak to what rules they had.....beyond some areas that were remote basically uninhabited...and known NVA base areas.....were designated "Free Fire Zones" and anything moving was fair game.

You must remember the context the Rules were designed under....once main force North Vietnamese forces came south and began to operate....the War morphed from a typical insurgency and began to take on more conventional war kinds of confrontations between regular forces of each side.

There were still large unpopulated areas of jungle in those days and it made for something similar to fighting as in Burma, New Guinea, the Solomons.

There are a lot of misconceptions about the nature of the fighting when some try to compare Vietnam to Malaya and Borneo.

Small things such as Tanks, Artillery, Radar Controlled AAA, SAM's, MIG 15/17/21 Fighters that the Opposition forces in Malaya did not have.
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Old 8th May 2022, 19:03
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ROE's will always have the inherent risk of National Strategic imperatives colliding with a tactical reality. Having been at both ends of the ROE chain I get the frustrations, but ROE is a not great solution to a problem where all the other alternatives are worse. Ultimately everyone who can deliver Lethal force has to take responsibility for that.

Personally I am OK with that because the alternative is what you see with the Russians in the Ukraine. I never want to be part of a Military that behaves like that, it is repulsive and obscene

Finally, I would suggest that ROE failures are ultimately leadership failures, primarily at the field grade level. As a LCdr I once pushed back all the way to the 2 star level to address what I considered inappropriate ROE. I didn't make too many friends but I got most of the relief I wanted and in the end there was a better understanding by senior leaders of the tactical reality at the ground level.
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Old 8th May 2022, 22:04
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Salute!

No stranger to restrictive ROE in SEA, but got to fly as a Sandy in second tour.

So what, Gums? Well, we CSAR folks had almost zero ROE from above. If, in our on-scene opinion, there was a threat to Jolly or the survivor, we could blow it away. On our basic CAS missions and LZ prep we still needed a FAC to mark the tgt or give a very good verbal point for us to use as a reference. On the trips to Hanoi we had very good tgt study and recce images to find and destroy the tgt. Our NAV system on the Sluf was outstanding and the HUD tgt symbol was usually within a half a mile or less of the thing we were supposed to hit.
==================================
BTW, I have noticed among the last half dozen or more contributions the practice of quoting someone's entire post versus a specific point of interest, or two. I hope this practice does not become the norm.

Gums sends...
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Old 9th May 2022, 06:46
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
No command approval required, sought, or desired.

The Rules were clearcut....simple...direct...and the decision was left up to the Aircraft Commander.....remembering ours was a Transport Helicopter and not a Gunship.
Apologies, by Comd I meant aircraft Comd. For example under Card Alpha (UK self defence) a door gunner could engage with their inherent right to self defence (or in defence of others) rather than having to request permission to engage from the AC Comd?
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Old 9th May 2022, 15:17
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I handled that in my Morning Brief.....with a statement to the Gunners along the lines of " If we are getting the sh%t shot out of us and you see where it is coming from.....kill those SOB's!

My comment about requesting approval from the chain of command above the Aircraft Commander is what I was referring to....and by telling the gunners for the situation described above they had my permission to return fire.

If my superiors could delegate that authority to me....it seemed logical I could delegate that authority to the gunner and by adding my. own limitations it was still within the ROE.

I saw that as being part of the Army Concept of the Commander's Brief where he lets the Troops in on what the upcoming Mission was supposed to accomplish so they could carry it out even if direct Command and Control was lost for some reason during contact with the Enemy.

Sounds like the UK Rules covers that as part of your ROE.....which seems right and logical.
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Old 10th May 2022, 08:40
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
I handled that in my Morning Brief.....with a statement to the Gunners along the lines of " If we are getting the sh%t shot out of us and you see where it is coming from.....kill those SOB's!

My comment about requesting approval from the chain of command above the Aircraft Commander is what I was referring to....and by telling the gunners for the situation described above they had my permission to return fire.

If my superiors could delegate that authority to me....it seemed logical I could delegate that authority to the gunner and by adding my. own limitations it was still within the ROE.

I saw that as being part of the Army Concept of the Commander's Brief where he lets the Troops in on what the upcoming Mission was supposed to accomplish so they could carry it out even if direct Command and Control was lost for some reason during contact with the Enemy.

Sounds like the UK Rules covers that as part of your ROE.....which seems right and logical.
I also did a tour with a NATO partner and that was where I discovered different countries have varying degrees of "honest belief"
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