"Rules of Engagement: Directives issued by competent authority which delineate the circumstances and limitations under which United States forces will initiate and/or continue combat engagement with other forces encountered."
-- JCS Pub 1
A. Principal Findings.
The basic Rules of Engagement (ROE) for USMNF forces in Beirut have been in effect since the second USMNF insertion on 29 September 1982. The ROE were promulgated on 24 September 1982 by USCINCEUR, the responsible authority for contingency operations in the Eastern Mediterranean. They were consistent with the guidance provided in the JCS Alert Order of 23 September 1983. The ROE developed by USCINCEUR are derived from U.S. European Command Directive 55-471, "Peacetime Rules of Engagement."
JCS guidance to USCINCEUR was that USMNF forces were not to engage in combat and would use normal USEUCOM peacetime ROE. Force was to be used only when required for self-defense against a hostile threat, in response t a hostile act, or in defense of LAF elements operating with the USMNF. USCINCEUR incorporated the JCS guidance and elaborated thereon. Reprisals or punitive measures were forbidden. USMNF elements were enjoined to seek guidance from higher authority prior to using armed force for self-defense unless an emergency existed. The ROE defined "hostile act" and "hostile force," and designated the Combined Amphibious Task Force Commander (CTF 61) as the authority to declare a force hostile. "Ho threat" was not defined. If non-LAF forces infiltrated or violated USMNF assigned areas or lines, they were to be informed they were in an unauthorized area and could not proceed. If they failed to depart, the USMNF Commander (CTF 62) was to be informed and would determine the action to be taken. The LAF had responsibility for apprehension and detention of any intruders. The USMNF was authorized to use force only if the intruder committed a hostile act. Finally, commanders were to be prepared to extract forces if necessary.
By message to subordinate commands on 28 September 1982, CINCUSNAVEUR elaborated on the ROE provided by USCINCEUR and directed that further ROE development for U.S. forces ashore be for self-defense only. Detailed ROE, consistent with command guidance, were issued by CTF 62 on 27 October 1982, and again on 12 November 1982.
Following the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut on 18 April 1983, a USMNF unit was formed to provide external security for U.S. Embassy functions relocated at the Duraffourd Building, British Embassy, and the U.S. Ambassador's Residence at Yarze. On 1 May 1983, CTF 6 requested specific ROE to counter the vehicular and pedestrian terrorist threat to those buildings. on 7 May 1983, USCINCEUR promulgated ROE specifically for that security force which expanded the definition of a hostile act to encompass attempts by personnel or vehicles to breach barriers or roadblocks established on approaches to the Duraffourd Building, the British Embassy or the U.S. Ambassador's Residence.
Following the 4 September 198F pull-back to the Awwali River, fighting intensified in the mountainous Shuf region southeast of Beirut. Phalange and Druze militias fought for control of the territory vacated by the IDF. LAF units also
In the aftermath of the 23 October 1983 terrorist attack at the BLT Headquarters, review of the basic USMNF ROE as conducted at virtually every level of command. ROE were promulgated to govern the use of electronic warfare, and reviews of specific ROE for F-14/Tactical Aerial Reconnaissance PODS (TARPS) flights, for air defense, and for defensive activities of afloat elements of the U.S. presence (i.e. CTF 60 and CTF 61) were conducted. Late on 23 October, CTF 61 submitted a ROE change request to COMSIXTHFLT requesting that USMNF personnel at BIA be authorized to take under any civilian vehicle which approached USMNF positions at a high rate of speed and failed to acknowledge signals to stop. COMSIXTHFLT forwarded the request up the chain of command. On 25 October 1983, USCINCEUR responded that the authority requested was already covered under the self-protection rules of the ROE in effect. The USCINCEUR response noted that the promulgation in early may 1983 of additional ROE for the U.S. Embassy security tasking was considered necessary because the USMNF had been assigned an additional mission which went beyond its self-defense. On 26 October 1983, CINCUSNAVEUR approved the ROE modification requested by CTF 61. On 26 November 1983, COMSIXTHFLT proposed to CINCUSNAVEUR that the ROE be further changed to authorize the taking of prompt, forceful action against any unauthorized attempt to gain entry into an area occupied by the USMNF. CINCUSNAVEUR and USCINCEUR responded on 27 November 1983 that such action was already authorized by existing ROE. USCINCEUR, however, agreed to provide specific rules in a coming revision of the original ROE.
The ROE were developed in accordance with established JCS guidance, and promulgated by the appropriate command authority,
The environment into which the USMNF was inserted on September 1982 was clearly permissive. The judgement that the USMNF was perceived as a neutral, stabilizing presence by most, if not all, factions in the Beirut area can be drawn from the general absence of hostile reactions in the initial months of their presence. The ROE were appropriate for such a permissive environment. But the environment proved to be dynamic, and became increasingly hostile to the USMNF component as the U.S. presence stretched beyond the brief stay envisioned by the original Exchange of Notes.
The Commission believes that for any ROE to be effective, they should incorporate definitions of hostile intent and hostile action which correspond to the realities of the environment in which they are to be implemented. To be adequate, they must also provide the commander explicit authority to respond quickly to acts defined as hostile. Only when these two criteria are satisfied do ROE provide the on-scene commander with the guidance and the flexibility he requires to defend his force. By these measures, the ROE in force at BIA subsequent to the U.S. Embassy bombing in April were neither effective nor adequate. That event clearly signaled a change in the environment: the employment of terrorist tactics by hostile elements.
The emergence of the terrorist threat brought the guidance and flexibility afforded by the ROE into question. The modified ROE promulgated for the security force assigned to U.S. Embassy facilities were necessary. For the first time, threatening actions such as attempts to breach barriers or checkpoints were specifically defined as hostile acts justifying the use of military force. USMNF personnel providing security for the Embassy were authorized to take adequate defensive action in those circumstances. But the commander of the USMNF perceived that the new ROE from USCINCEUR were for use only by the Embassy security element. The presumption at HQ USEUCOM, subsequently apparent in both messages and discussion with principals, was that the USMNF Commander had already been given sufficient guidance and authority to respond to vehicular terrorist attacks against his forces at BIA in the original ROE promulgated on 24 September 1982. In the view of the Commission, the ROE provided in May for the Embassy security contingent should have been explicitly extended to the entire USMNF.
The Commission relives that ROE developed for the insertion of the USMNF into Lebanon in late September 1982, were appropriate
II. RULES OF ENGAGEMENT IMPLEMENTATION
A. Principal Findings.
The ROE contained in the 24 September 1982 USCINCEUR OPREP-1 were implemented by Commander Amphibious Task Force/Commander U.S. Forces Lebanon (CTF 61), and Commander 32d Marine Amphibious Unit/Commander U.S. Forces Ashore Lebanon (CTF 62), upon insertion of the USMNF into Beirut on 29 September 1982. CTF 62 implemented the ROE for the USMNF through the issuance of specific instructions to his personnel on 27 October and 12 November 1982. (COMSIXTHFLT and CTF 61 were information addressees on that traffic.) The central guidance for implementation of the ROE was that USMNF elements would only engage in defensive actions.
Briefly summarized, the following points constitute the ROE guidance utilized by the individual members of the USMNF from 29 September 1982 until 7 May 1983.
Following the 18 April 1983 destruction of the U.S. Embassy, USCINCEUR promulgated an expanded set of ROE for use by USMNF personnel assigned to provide security for the British Embassy and the Duraffourd Building where U.S. Embassy functions had been relocated. Those expanded ROE were implemented by CTF 62 through the issuance to each Marine assigned to Embassy security duty of an ROE card, the so called "Blue Card." Since the USCINCEUR expanded ROE were promulgated for specific use of those members of the USMNF assigned to provide security for the Embassy, USMNF elements at BIA continued to operate under the ROE previously provided. In order to ensure that each Marine of the USMNF understood what set of ROE were applicable to him at any given time, CTF 62 issued a "White Card" delineating the ROE for those not assigned to Embassy duty, as follows:
"The mission of the Multi-national Force (MNF) is to keep the peace. The following rules of engagement will be read and fully understood by all members of the U.S. contingent of the MNF:
These rules of engagement will be followed by all members the U.S. MNF unless otherwise directed."
All USMNF personnel were required to carry the appropriate card and know its content at all times while on duty. The practical results was that USMNF elements operated under two set of ROE from early May 1983 until after the 23 October 1983 bombing of the BLT Headquarters building.
The Blue Card/White Card ROE guidance continued in effect until 24 October 1983 (the day following the BLT Headquarters bombing) when CTF 62 sought a ROE change from USCINCEUR, via the chain of command, to allow USMNF personnel to take under fire speeding vehicles approaching USMNF positions at BIA. On 26 November 1983, COMSIXTHFLT requested that USMNF personnel be authorized to fire, without warning if necessary, on vehicles attempting unauthorized access to an area of USMNF positions. As noted in Section I of this Part, on both of those occasions CINCUSNAVEUR and USCINCEUR held the view that the original ROE (24 September 1982) authorized CTF 62 to take such actions as he, the on-scene commander, considered necessary to defend his force against hostile action. Nonetheless, approval was provided to CTF 62.
CTF 62 determined that restraint in the use of force was key to accomplishing the presence mission he was assigned, and that strict adherence to the ROE was necessary if his forces were to maintain the "neutral" stance that the presence role entailed.
The Commission views with concern the fact that there were two different sets of ROE being used by USMNF elements in Beirut after the Embassy bombing on 18 April 1983. Those ROE used by the Embassy security detail were designed to counter the terrorist threat posed by both vehicles and personnel. Marines on similar duty at BIA, however, did not have the same ROE to provide them specific guidance and authority to respond to a vehicle or person moving through a perimeter. Their "White Card" ROE required them to call local forces to assist in all self-defense efforts.
Message transmissions up and down the USCINCEUR chain of command revealed that COMSIXTHFLT subordinate elements had different perceptions of the commander's latitude in implementing ROE than did CINCUSNAVEUR and USCINCEUR. The latter believed
The Commission believes there were a number of factors which cumulatively affected the "mind-set" of the Marines at BIA. One factor was the mission, with its emphasis on highly visible presence and peace-keeping. Another was the ROE, which underscored the need to fire only if fired upon to avoid harming innocent civilians, to respect civilian property, and to share security and self-defense efforts with the LAF. Promulgation of different ROE for those performing Embassy security duties contributed to a sense among the officers and men at BIA that the terrorist threat confronting them was somehow less dangerous than that which prevailed at the Embassy. The "White Card - Blue Card" dichotomy tended to formalize that view. Interviews of individual Marines who performed duty at the two locations confirm this mind-set. In short, the Commission believes the Marines at BIA were conditioned by their ROE to respond less aggressively to unusual vehicular or pedestrian activity at their perimeter than were those Marines posted at the Embassy locations.
The mission concludes that a single set of ROE providing specific guidance for countering the type of vehicular terrorist attacks that destroyed the U.S. Embassy on 18 April 1983 and the BLT Headquarters building on 23 October 1983 had not been provided to, nor implemented by, CTF 62.
The Commission further concludes that the mission statement, the original ROE, and the implementation in May 1983 of dual "Blue Card" - "White Card" ROE contributed to a mind-set that detracted from the readiness of the USMNF to respond to the terrorist threat which materialized on 23 October 1983.