Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Rules of engagement

The rules of engagement have been set for Japanese troops headed to Iraq, and they seem quite limited:

The Defense Agency has compiled limited attack-response rules of engagement for Iraq-bound personnel of the Ground Self Defense Force, who have no combat experience.

The rules call on the GSDF members to hold their fire until it is clear their foes are aiming weapons at them, government sources said.

The guidelines state, for example, that GSDF troops can open fire at attackers whose weapons specifically appear to be aimed at them, and they can fire from armored vehicles if their occupants are about to come under fire from armor-piercing weapons.

The attack-response issue is a politically sensitive one for Self-Defense Forces personnel, even though they may be as heavily armed as soldiers of other countries, due to the Constitution's renunciation of war.

The rules, compiled in advance of the first postwar dispatch of Japanese ground troops to an area in which fighting is taking place, remain incomplete, including the terms under which warning shots may be fired.

The GSDF plans fuller instructions before the troops are dispatched, the sources said.

Under the rules, an SDF "officer" could open fire first, for example by using a mounted machinegun, if SDF troops in an armored vehicle are clearly about to be attacked, including with long-range antitank guns.


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