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Rules of Engagement

  Rules of Engagement: Directives issued by competent military authority that delineate the circumstances and limitations under which United States forces will initiate and/or continue combat engagement with other forces encountered.   Joint Pub 1-02, Definitions (PDF)  

The rules of engagement (ROE) used during the war in Southeast Asia continue to be one of the most controversial aspects of that conflict.   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.   The restrictions these rules placed on commanders and individual fighting men became a frustrating and costly example of micromanagement taken to the highest level.

Here are some links on Rules of Engagement in the Vietnam War:

Evolution of ROE

Free Fire Zones and ROE

ROE Over North Vietnam  • Alt

ROE for Gulf of Tonkin (Aug '64)    • More    • More

ROE Over Laos (JCS Message, 1964)

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