Posted by: TheAuthor | 01/04/2011

Az Zubayr

So I was talking about the film Rules of Engagement. Was the firing on civilians justified in any way? It is a no brainer, no obviously. However, from an insider’s perspective, things are rarely as they seem once you leave the battlefield. Pen pushers, hunting for a scape goat who never seen so much as a spit ball head their way, seek out for a reason to call a case illegal.

For the British army this is a big part of training and also follows the same name, the rules of engagement. As long as you stay within these guidelines then you are within the law. As my train of thought spiraled after the conversation of the film, I remembered the following series of events. Amusing in hindsight, but could have been far worse.

On a hot day In Iraq, an inter company football tournament was well under way with everyone taking part. Just then, as a game was ending the outpost’s alarm sounded. Insurgent’s were reported to be in the vicinity of the town and the company was being deployed to locate them. The call sign I was a driver for was en-route to an area we hardly patrolled because it was prone to rioting and anti coalition troops.

No sooner had we pulled into the area, I forget the name now, we had natural barriers to our left (buildings) and to our right (a lake) as well as a human barrier to our front–the local populace and they were agitated.

Our patrol came to a halt while the boss got on the radio back to the outpost. It was an intimidating sight, at least a hundred angry locals shouting and waving aggressively towards us. Before we knew what had happened we received sporadic small arms fire. This is the grey area.

Our lives are in immediate danger, yet we are unable to positively identify (PID) the gunmen. Therefore, we have to take it. The top cover from the vehicles scanned forward while taking cover; I burst out from the front seat and took a firing position behind my vehicle; as did everyone else. Taking cover and observing. Rounds came in close by, but still no location to return fire at.

After a minute or two, it was decided we would assault state green (no firing or use of grenades unless a target was PID’d). We rapidly embarked the vehicles and burst towards the crowd who scattered under the approach. We drove through the contact point and came to a stop.

The situation continues from there, but the incident was over. Situations arise all the time. It takes a great deal of restraint to not use force to protect yourself when lethally threatened. Of course, engaging innocent people is ferociously wrong. But, unless you are in the place at the time, with the mind-set and intelligence picture, you can’t and therefore shouldn’t judge.

Sure makes for an interesting film though.

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Responses

  1. The film is designed to shock.soldiers about to head into combat zones showing that bullets do a.lot of damage even after ricocheting.. It is a valuable educational tool Carmine Caputo a Defence.Science and Technology Organisation scientist said..He said the film shows the difference between taking cover.behind something impenetrable and hiding behind something that.conceals but doesnt protect from hostile fire.. We got scientific information about bullet penetration so that.trainers can set up models and simulations Mr Caputo said..But former soldier Dane Simmonds who came under fire during two.tours of East Timor and one of Iraq said soldiers already knew it.was a good idea to dodge bullets.. Young soldiers …


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