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Military: Rules of Engagement and Opening Fire Essay

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Updated: Mar 30th, 2021

Force Protection Requirements

Military personnel deployed in enemy territories are often at risk from the enemy. They carry out their mission under harsh conditions. As a result of this, army commanders must strive to enhance Force Protection (FP). FP refers to dealings undertaken by military personnel to alleviate hostile actions directed towards them.1 The acts may be directed towards the soldiers, combat facilities, or family members.

Upon deployment to Somalia, ADF will provide six Force Elements (FEs). Each FE will be assigned a set of specific responsibilities. The components include Force Elements Headquarters, Task Force 21, Reconstruction, and Peacekeeping Task Force. Others are Medical Team and Air Wing.

Force Elements Headquarters

The force elements headquarters comprises three functional roles. The duties include command and control, logistics, and intelligence. In the military sector, the command and control unit is required to provide authorization and channels vital to the accomplishment of set missions.2 Command and control ensure army officers carry out their operations while adhering to lawful authority.

To ensure effective force protection, the logistics arm is required to plan and organize safe transportation of army troops and equipment. The intelligence is required to analyze, process, and distribute vital tactical information concerning enemy forces and high-risk battle areas.3

Task Force 21

Task Force 21 is broken down into three primary functional roles crucial for force protection. The duties include long-range reconnaissance, direct action, and training and advising. Long-range reconnaissance is comprised of teams required to conduct surveillance patrols deep in the enemy grounds.4

Besides, Task Force 21 is required to set up short and precise duration strikes on enemy territories. The operations are aimed at seizing, recovering, or destroying specific targets on the other side. To ensure proper force protection, Task Force 21 is required to conduct rigorous training and advise the army personnel before being deployed to battlefields.5

Reconstruction Task Force (RTF)

Reconstruction Task Force is charged with the responsibility of carrying out edifice activities, quick impact projects, and demining operations. The military department engages in such tasks as rebuilding and community-based activities.6 The Quick Impact Projects take a maximum period of six months. Their primary aim is to help affected countries, such as Somalia, achieve a stable and secure future. Demining is a force protection component that involves detecting and removing land mines. The mines may endanger the safety of the soldiers on the battlefield.

Peacekeeping Taskforce

The Peacekeeping Unit will ensure force protection by monitoring peace processes in territories that were earlier affected by conflicts.7 Besides, the unit works with ex-military officials to implement signed peace agreements. FOB and RTF security detachments are required to provide security in cases where the supporting troops are not available.8

Medical Team

The medical team plays a vital role in force protection. The 1st Close Health Battalion (1CHB) will be required to offer health assistance to all army personnel deployed to the battlegrounds.9 The medical advisory team will provide army officers with specialist advice on probable biological, chemical, and radiological threats.

Air Wing

The ADF Air Wing Unit comprises of different sets of planes. The military division is required to offer force protection by monitoring operational routes and potential targets.10 Also, the unit ensures safe and quick transportation of soldiers and war artilleries. Effective movement of soldiers is crucial to the welfare of soldiers on the battlefield.

Orders for Opening Fire Instructions

Army personnel deployed to the battlefield operate in dangerous and hostile environments. Despite the imminent threat to their lives, the actions of the soldiers are guided by Rules of Engagement (ROE). The laws include guidelines that determine how military officers can use force when engaging in combat with enemy forces.11 The laws limit and deter army troops from unlawful use of power. However, soldiers have the right to use force and take appropriate actions to defend themselves.

To enhance the safety of ADF officers, various recommendations are made. The measures are aimed at reducing the vulnerability of the troops in warzones.12 Besides, they help army personnel to achieve their mission without causing harm to civilians.

In the course of the operation to support international humanitarian intervention in Somalia, ADF will be required to use some measure of force. The reason behind this is because they are dealing with terrorist groups, which pose a real danger to the life of innocent civilians. Also, the enemy forces are a threat to the deployed ADF. Even though Somalia is a warzone, the ADF, NATO, and other allied multinational forces under the UN mandate face restrictions on how to open fire. Failure to abide by the Orders for Opening Fire is termed as a breach of ethical and legal considerations.13

The ADF deployed six different military units to Somalia. The teams are often equipped with sophisticated artilleries. The reason behind this is to ensure force protection and help the soldiers accomplish their mission with ease. Once on the battlefield, the soldiers’ rights to shoot at terrorists are guided by various Orders for Opening Fire instructions.14

According to the new open fire instructions set by ADF, soldiers are required to shoot in cases where the enemy poses a real danger to the life of military personnel or civilians. In certain circumstances, army officers are required to call out warnings to the terrorists before opening fire. If the admonition is ignored, a soldier is free to use fire.15 The Orders for Opening Fire Instructions are relayed by the head of the ADF Central Command. The directives that allow soldiers to shoot are aimed at deterring military personnel from causing harm to innocent civilians who do not pose an immediate danger to the troop. It is noted that civilians are at times affected by the incursions made by soldiers on the battlefield.

The ADF Air Wing is meant to offer support to personnel on the ground. However, military planes can cause great danger to civilians who are caught in the crossfire. The ADF Orders for Opening Fire dictate that close air support and indirect shooting must be authorized by the commander.16 The Air Wing is required to seek permission to shoot in the case where all other means have failed. However, soldiers on the planes must have physical eyes on the targets. Also, the proximity to civilians must be taken into consideration. The reason behind this is to avoid causing danger to evacuees or innocent citizens. Besides, the directive prevents chances of Air Wing Units causing harm to their teams on the ground.


Bruce, Alexander. Rules of Engagement. New York: Berkley, 2006.

Head, Michael, and Scott Mann. Domestic Deployment of the Armed Forces. Farnham, England: Ashgate Pub., 2009.

Kent, Gordon. Force Protection. New York: Dell, 2005.


  1. Gordon Kent, Force Protection (New York: Dell, 2005), 43.
  2. Michael Head and Scott Mann, Domestic Deployment of the Armed Forces (Farnham, England: Ashgate Pub., 2009), 23-27.
  3. Alexander Bruce, Rules of Engagement (New York: Berkley, 2006), 34.
  4. Kent, 33.
  5. Bruce, 21.
  6. Head and Mann, 11.
  7. Kent, 81.
  8. Bruce, 81.
  9. Head and Mann, 22.
  10. Kent, 23.
  11. Bruce, 88.
  12. Head and Mann, 62.
  13. Kent, 43.
  14. Bruce, 11.
  15. Head and Mann, 10.
  16. Kent, 41.
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