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Old 09-14-2010   #1
Tukhachevskii
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Default Specially Protected Persons in Combat Situations (new title)

Moderator's Note

The author of this post suggested the thread's title be changed from 'Achilles Heel: getting our arses kicked by kids?' and so with consummate legal skill jmm99 has suggested:
Quote:
'Specially Protected Persons in Combat Situations'

So far a number of those "special protectees" have been mentioned:

1. child soldiers
2. children in general
3. civilians in general
4. persons held under a belligerent's power (de hors rule #1)
5. persons wounded (de hors rule #2)
6. persons surrendering (de hors rule #3)
7. medical rescuers (military & civilian)

We might subtitle it:

"How honest, law-abiding regular forces are getting their arses shot off because a cloud-cuckoo-wunderland morass has been imposed on them to create criminal sanctions against dishonest, law-shirking regular and irregular forces who could care less because the Hague is too remote".

With credits to Tukhii and NZ O'Neill.
Original Post below


I have been thinking about ways our enemies could continue to gut us morally (in terms of atatcking the legitimacy of our governments at home) and of how Muslim combatants could pursue their goals by using our own culture against us. So, what would our strategy, or more importantly, our rules of engagement be, if, say during a "humantarian" intervention into Darfur or Ethiopia we were confronted with hordes of child soldiers?

Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-01-2010 at 08:53 PM. Reason: 1) Change thread title, 2) Add Mod's note
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Old 09-14-2010   #2
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Default First off, my druthers are not to intervene ....

with US troops in either Darfur or Ethiopia (perhaps, funding of efforts by Lagrange et al, but no military intervention).

That being said, you have two very different military responses.

One is from The Horse Soldiers, where Wayne and his troopers are confronted by the cadets from a local military school (Jefferson Military Academy). The scene in the movie is known appropriately as "The Great Skedaddle".

The other is from Dr. Zhivago, where his Red partisan unit is confronted by the cadets from a local military school (St. Michael's Military Academy). That scene should be called "Well-aimed MG and rifle fires are always effective against soldiers of all ages".

Regards

Mike

Last edited by jmm99; 09-14-2010 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 09-15-2010   #3
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Default in a children's crusade, who plays the heavy?

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Originally Posted by Tukhachevskii View Post
... if we were confronted with hordes of child soldiers[/url]?
Mexico just celebrated the anniversary remembrance of their young cadets glorious 'death before surrender' at the hands of the US expeditionary force approaching (and occupying) Mexico City.

On the level of unintended consequences, our rapid successes during the invasion of Mexico led to the reinstatement to command of liberation general Santa Ana, hated by Texans as the 'butcher of Goliad'. Vigorously opposing Polk's war nearly ended the political career (and did unseat) freshman Congressman Abe Lincoln.
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Old 09-15-2010   #4
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Once, the French COS were interviewed about the same question: what to do in front of child soldier. The answer was interesting: we have to remember that we have children in front of us but we have to not forget that they are soldiers too.
The IHL gives a clear line: children are not to be soldiers and are protected both as legitimate target and troops.
In the case of being confronted to child soldiers (Mike will clarify this much better than me), norm is that you try to restrain a maximum. Anyways, the one who is really guilty is the one who recruits children to be soldiers, not the one being confronted and has to defend.
A lot of interesting stuff on the Save The Children and ICRC web sites.
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Old 09-15-2010   #5
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Default There are two rules of engagement to consider

One is the rule based on self-defense. That rule is always in play and permits killing a hostile threat - an armed, hostile threat from a child is the same legally as an armed hostile threat from an adult.

In both of the movie scenes, the child soldiers were in attack mode against the Union cavalry in one case and the Red Guards in the other (a less aggressive attack in the latter case, but an advance none the less). So, the always in effect self-defense rule applied in both cases.

Both movies are set in civil wars. Since both groups of child soldiers involved uniformed military forces, the cadets could be regarded as designated hostile forces as to which kill or capture would apply regardless of an armed, hostile threat or not.

I seriously cited the two movies as examples.

Regards

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Old 09-15-2010   #6
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Mike - Great examples.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tukhachevskii View Post
So, what would our strategy, or more importantly, our rules of engagement be, if, say during a "humantarian" intervention into Darfur or Ethiopia we were confronted with hordes of child soldiers?
Let's hope that the child soldiers find CS gas terrifying and incapacitating. If not, the operation will end as soon as the photos of a dozen dead child soldiers killed by the peacekeeping forces hits the media. As interesting and important of an issue this is, what our rules of engagement will be is less critical than what our information campaign will be domestically. It is inevitable that despite our best preparations we will end up killing child soldiers at some point. It doesn't matter whether it's 15 or 100, it will be a nightmare.

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Old 09-15-2010   #7
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Originally Posted by Adam L View Post
Mike - Great examples.
Let's hope that the child soldiers find CS gas terrifying and incapacitating. If not, the operation will end as soon as the photos of a dozen dead child soldiers killed by the peacekeeping forces hits the media. As interesting and important of an issue this is, what our rules of engagement will be is less critical than what our information campaign will be domestically. It is inevitable that despite our best preparations we will end up killing child soldiers at some point. It doesn't matter whether it's 15 or 100, it will be a nightmare.

Adam L
The problematic of child soldiers acceptance by the masses is interesting at several levels.
Few years ago, Save The Children made a survey on DDR programs for children; What came out is:
- no one is ready to accept the idea that under 15 children could be warriors. This despite reallity. It seems that for most of the military cultures under 15 boys are too young to be "soldiers/killers".
- Even less people are ready to accept the idea that under 15 girls could be child soldiers and not just sexual slaves. The idea that a 7 years old boy carrying a weapon is more acceptable than a 10 years old girl fighting.
- Most, if not all, communities around the world banished the use of child soldiers as a rule of stump. (Which does not mean that no one is using them.)
- All professional soldiers were shocked by having to conduct demobilisation activities with under 15 years old children (boys and girls). But demobilizing under 15 years old girls is considered as even more traumatising that demobilizing young boys.

The main exception to this, as far as I know during the seccond half of 20st century, has been the use of children by Iran during the Irak/Iran war. But even then, it was not that popular inside the Iran’s population.
My point is that using only children would be a strong challenge even inside the supporting population.

And finally, it is interesting to define what a child soldier is? A 17 years old boy or girl (A cadet even less) taking side is finally very much acceptable. It's illegal but the moral question is not really there.
But what to do when you face a group of 10 boys between 8 and 13 years old? With a 10 years old girl as commander...

NB: there is an interesting point on the definition of child soldier. Under 7 years old, children are considered as useless for war. This limit of childhood in war is very ancient as you find notes on this in the Bible (Deuteronom) and even more ancient law texts on war (Manu code…). Nowadays, it is considered that a below 7 child is not strong enough to carry a gun or shoot with.

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Old 09-15-2010   #8
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Originally Posted by Tukhachevskii View Post
I have been thinking about ways our enemies could continue to gut us morally (in terms of atatcking the legitimacy of our governments at home) and of how Muslim combatants could pursue their goals by using our own culture against us. So, what would our strategy, or more importantly, our rules of engagement be, if, say during a "humantarian" intervention into Darfur or Ethiopia we were confronted with hordes of child soldiers?
In the examples you use (Darfur and Ethiopia) and to which you can add Congo, Somalia and others the best route is to use proxy forces from the AU (like Uganda in Somalia) and let them deal with it to the best of their ability.

This way western countries will be able to avoid the angst and hand-wringing that goes with engaging children in combat.
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Old 09-15-2010   #9
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Originally Posted by JMA View Post
In the examples you use (Darfur and Ethiopia) and to which you can add Congo, Somalia and others the best route is to use proxy forces from the AU (like Uganda in Somalia) and let them deal with it to the best of their ability.

This way western countries will be able to avoid the angst and hand-wringing that goes with engaging children in combat.
I agree completely. I just logged on to make the same comment.

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Old 09-16-2010   #10
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Originally Posted by JMA View Post
In the examples you use (Darfur and Ethiopia) and to which you can add Congo, Somalia and others the best route is to use proxy forces from the AU (like Uganda in Somalia) and let them deal with it to the best of their ability.

This way western countries will be able to avoid the angst and hand-wringing that goes with engaging children in combat.
Agreed,

But that's assuming they'll fight as cleanly and legaly as we would have..after all, being branded child killers by proxy is the same as doing ourselves, in fact possibly worse. Anyone remember the ECOMOG/Nigerian intervention into Sierra Leone?.

And here...
Quote:
ECOMOG soldiers always disgraced themselves first before they would begin to disgrace those they were deployed to help. How long did Lieutenant-General Arnold Quainoo remain in his post as ECOMOG commander in Liberia before he surrendered his headquarters to Prince Johnson, a known warlord, to slaughter the Samuel Doe presidential party he was hosting? He had been in Liberia fewer than three weeks. He arrived in Liberia in mid-August 1990. On September 10, 1990, General Quainoo was holed up at the fortified ECOMOG base in the Port of Monrovia, waiting for his ship to come in to take him home to his native Ghana. He probably had no plans for keeping warring factions apart, and perhaps felt he might lose his life to another mistake of similar magnitude.

Gen. Quainoo's departure was followed by a half dozen fire-breathing Nigerian commanders in successive order. But each was compromised by either bribes or the structural ineptitude that was evident before he arrived. All this never prompted any soul searching in ECOWAS.

I met Gen. Quainoo and asked him what went to wrong, he shrugged his soldiers and said "It's Africa, what do you expect" and downed his whisky (we met at a Conflict Resolution workshop to boot!)

IIRC it took UK forces to actually get the job done. Sure, proxy forces are OK so long as they know what they're doing and won't cause even more trouble for their "sponsors" to deal with.
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Old 09-16-2010   #11
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Originally Posted by Tukhachevskii View Post
I have been thinking about ways our enemies could continue to gut us morally (in terms of atatcking the legitimacy of our governments at home) and of how Muslim combatants could pursue their goals by using our own culture against us. So, what would our strategy, or more importantly, our rules of engagement be, if, say during a "humantarian" intervention into Darfur or Ethiopia we were confronted with hordes of child soldiers?
During a humanitarian intervention, the only appropriate use of deadly force would be for self-protection. Given that other means are available to preclude the use of deadly force, the ROE ought to be to use such means whenever possible.
I'd suggest that those involved in a humanitarian intervention be primarily (perhaps exclusively) equipped with incapaciting agents/devices. Chemical examples can be found here. Other items that are capable of causing incapitation are available. Some examples include electromuscular incapacitating devices (EMD), AKA stun guns or Tasers®, and high intensity noise generators.

As others have noted, a vigorous information operations (IO) campaign, one that pre-empts the opponent's PR strategy is also required. Such a media campaign must alert the world to the possibility of engagement by "child soldiers" and and explain the intended responses to be used should such engagements arise. The IO campaign needs to be initiated prior to deployment and continued at least until the intervention force redeploys, if not longer.
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Old 09-16-2010   #12
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During a humanitarian intervention, the only appropriate use of deadly force would be for self-protection. Given that other means are available to preclude the use of deadly force, the ROE ought to be to use such means whenever possible.
I'd suggest that those involved in a humanitarian intervention be primarily (perhaps exclusively) equipped with incapaciting agents/devices. Chemical examples can be found here. Other items that are capable of causing incapitation are available. Some examples include electromuscular incapacitating devices (EMD), AKA stun guns or Tasers®, and high intensity noise generators.

As others have noted, a vigorous information operations (IO) campaign, one that pre-empts the opponent's PR strategy is also required. Such a media campaign must alert the world to the possibility of engagement by "child soldiers" and and explain the intended responses to be used should such engagements arise. The IO campaign needs to be initiated prior to deployment and continued at least until the intervention force redeploys, if not longer.
Hang on a minute. Humanitarian intervention is mere the basis/reason for the intervention. Those whose actions have led to the intervention need to be engaged in no uncertain military terms.

Quote:
Humanitarian intervention refers to armed interference in one state by another state(s) with the objective of ending or reducing the suffering of the population within the first state. That suffering may be the result of civil war, humanitarian crisis, or crimes committed by the occupied nation (such as genocide). The goal of humanitarian intervention is neither annexation nor interference with territorial integrity, but minimization of the suffering of civilians in that state.
Engage and kill the perpetrators and thereby protect the people.

Last edited by JMA; 09-16-2010 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 09-16-2010   #13
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Default Hi wm,

I also have to disagree to some extent.

Choice of ROEs is situational (and also depends on the Laws of War, Laws of Armed Conflict, International Humanitarian Law, adopted by the intervening force or forces). If an "armed conflict" exists (under Geneva), then it is possible that a "status" ROE (in addition to the always in effect "self defense" ROE) will apply.

However, even if only "self-defense" ROEs were in force, one cannot remove the use of deadly force from the intervenor's table. By doing so, one could easily get into this situation from Sierra Leone, which I cited in this thread, U.S. troops face Afghan enemy too young to kill (3 pages):

Quote:
On Friday, 25 August 2000, British Major Alan Marshall, stationed at Benguema Training Camp decided to make a visit to one of UNAMSIL’s battalions near the town of Masiaka, about 65-kilometers east of Freetown. Marshall and his men were part of the stay-behind British training contingent. Accompanying him on this visit was an SLA liaison officer and 11 soldiers from the Royal Irish Regiment. After visiting with Colonel Jehad al-Widyan, commander of the UNAMSIL battalion, he decided to take his patrol to the WSB base in nearby Magbeni. Marshall received an intelligence report that only a few rebels were present at the base and he wanted to check out the situation. His three Land Rovers were armed with .50-caliber heavy machine guns and the soldiers with SA80 rifles. As the patrol approached Magbeni, located 50 miles east of the capital in Freetown, the WSB blocked the road and denied them movement. Major Marshall tried to reason with them, but they insisted that he wait until their leader, 24-year old “Brigadier” Foday Kallay arrived.

As they waited, Major Marshall carried on a conversation with the boys and offered them cigarettes. Communication with the base at Benguema Training Camp was established via radio and the base camp was informed that the patrol was being detained. Once Kallay arrived, the situation turned tense. Kallay began issuing orders to his armed soldiers, became angry with Marshall for entering an unauthorized area without coordination, and surrounded the patrol with soldiers and a captured SLA truck mounted with a 14.5-mm heavy machine gun. As Marshall made attempts to reason with the WSB, he was physically beaten. Within 5 minutes, the rest of the Royal Irish soldiers were overwhelmed, disarmed, stripped, and taken by canoes upstream, across Rokel River, to Gberi Bana, Kallay’s headquarters.
From Larry J. Woods and Colonel Timothy R. Reese, Military Interventions in Sierra Leone: Lessons From a Failed State (The Long War Series, Occasional Paper 28, CSI Press 2008) pp. 77-78 pdf.

Not a good use of my Mick cousins; and the rescue (p.83) probably led to much more loss of life than if the challenge had been met head on to begin with.

I recognize the need for restraint (that is, to use the methods you suggest); but too much emphasis there can lead to bad situations. The Beirut Marine barracks bombing was another example of overly cautious application of the ROEs (which were not the model of clarity down at the sentry level).

Regards

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Old 09-16-2010   #14
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Well, I have to disagree also and support Mike approach and understanding of humanitarian interventiuon.
The guy in front is not a nice guy and even if it's a child, he is using deadly force in some occasions.
ROE and TOE must be looked at with a practical point of view. Being deterent is often the best first step, even in "humanitarian operations".

The main question being how much weight 10 dead US soldiers against 10 kids of 12 to 15 years old.
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Old 09-16-2010   #15
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Well, I have to disagree also and support Mike approach and understanding of humanitarian interventiuon.
The guy in front is not a nice guy and even if it's a child, he is using deadly force in some occasions.
ROE and TOE must be looked at with a practical point of view. Being deterent is often the best first step, even in "humanitarian operations".

The main question being how much weight 10 dead US soldiers against 10 kids of 12 to 15 years old.
Lets try this... if the bad guys providing the justification for the humanitarian intervention are all 20-30 year olds I suppose a shoot on sight / shoot to kill policy would be fine?

Now what changes if they, knowing the great concern among western countries (but probably not among most their combat soldiers) about ensuring they don't get drawn into combat with child-soldiers, push some kids into the front line?

Why only on a humanitarian intervention? Why not in Afghanistan also?
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Old 09-16-2010   #16
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Default No, JMA ...

not quite this as stated:

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from JMA
... if the bad guys supplying the reason the humanitarian intervention are all 20-30 year olds I suppose a shoot on sight / shoot to kill policy would be fine?
although one might end up with something like that policy in practice.

To get to a "shoot anyplace, anytime" rule (a "status" ROE), one has to have:

1. A designated hostile force. Not that hard to pass that step if the hostiles are at least semi-organized (LRA, WSB, etc.)

2. The person whacked must be positively identified (PID in US ROE jargon) as a member of (part of) that hostile force. Passing that step is more difficult with irregular forces, especially under the Geneva Additional Protocols requiring the "whackee" to be "directly participating" in the armed conflict when whacked.

So, in many irregular warfare situations, PID comes about only because the person presents a hostile, armed threat - and the rule becomes just about the same whether one is under the Laws of War or the Rule of Law.

That is the theory - repeat, theory.

I can't see anything more strict than probablilities playing a role in reality - unless the soldier has a strong death wish. Is it more probable than not that the person in your sights is the enemy ?

What is the real "standard" for employing less definite tactics (than a person in your sights); such as, recon by fire. A probability (possibility ?) that enemy might be in that patch of thorn bush ? Or, for that matter, H & I arty, which is even less definite ?

Combat does not seem a good place to employ complicated legalisms.

Regards

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Old 09-16-2010   #17
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Lets try this... if the bad guys providing the justification for the humanitarian intervention are all 20-30 year olds I suppose a shoot on sight / shoot to kill policy would be fine?

Now what changes if they, knowing the great concern among western countries (but probably not among most their combat soldiers) about ensuring they don't get drawn into combat with child-soldiers, push some kids into the front line?

Why only on a humanitarian intervention? Why not in Afghanistan also?
A ‘shoot on sight’ policy is not necessarily the same as a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. In low intensity operations it is not about killing or wounding but about neutralising the treat. To paraphrase our shoot on sight policy in Timor 10 years ago (and we never needed to use it….once we had it):
• You must positively identify the target as being militia,
• He must be armed with his weapon ready for immediate use,
• He must be moving in a tactical manner,
• The situation must be such that giving a warning is likely to cause undue danger to yourself or to those you are there to protect,
• It must be a chance encounter,
• You (or his target???) must be within the maximum range of his weapon.

In anything beyond low intensity this kinda goes out the window. I suppose the trick for the policy makers is to determine this tipping point and to communicate that clearly to the troops. Kinda like the blind leading the experts?

Now where kids come into this, well, I think I’d have to agree with some above in saying that it ‘should’ be irrelevant. Technically and legally anyway. How we deal with it morally is less clear cut.

I should think that putting age limits in place is silly and counter productive. M-A Lagrange mentioned up-thread that a 7 year old is not supposed to be able to carry a gun. What if you encounter a 6 year old who is? Be forced to allow him to shoot you because he’s only 6? The moral issue remains. But taking it beyond that through ROE etc. may have an adverse effect in that it gives the enemy something to play with, as JMA point out.
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Old 09-17-2010   #18
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A ‘shoot on sight’ policy is not necessarily the same as a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. In low intensity operations it is not about killing or wounding but about neutralising the treat. To paraphrase our shoot on sight policy in Timor 10 years ago (and we never needed to use it….once we had it):
• You must positively identify the target as being militia,
• He must be armed with his weapon ready for immediate use,
• He must be moving in a tactical manner,
• The situation must be such that giving a warning is likely to cause undue danger to yourself or to those you are there to protect,
• It must be a chance encounter,
• You (or his target???) must be within the maximum range of his weapon.

In anything beyond low intensity this kinda goes out the window. I suppose the trick for the policy makers is to determine this tipping point and to communicate that clearly to the troops. Kinda like the blind leading the experts?

Now where kids come into this, well, I think I’d have to agree with some above in saying that it ‘should’ be irrelevant. Technically and legally anyway. How we deal with it morally is less clear cut.

I should think that putting age limits in place is silly and counter productive. M-A Lagrange mentioned up-thread that a 7 year old is not supposed to be able to carry a gun. What if you encounter a 6 year old who is? Be forced to allow him to shoot you because he’s only 6? The moral issue remains. But taking it beyond that through ROE etc. may have an adverse effect in that it gives the enemy something to play with, as JMA point out.
Lets keep this in the context of a shooting war which is a more likely scenario to provoke a humanitarian intervention.

These RoE seem to be designed to make the soldier's work more difficult than it already is.

If he is armed... you shoot him. Those 6 points are the stuff that gets soldiers killed and teaches them to be passive. Can't believe any self respecting general would inflict that upon his soldiers. We spoke about this before. This kind of work is for police, military police and paramilitaries not soldiers.

One minute we were talking about 12-15 year olds and now we are down to 6-7 year olds. How do they get these kids to stay and fight? Drugs? So it would be difficult to walk up to these kids and give them a smack behind the ear and take their weapons away.

But what of women and girls? Bumped into a few of them in my time. So I guess it is all about age then we accept that women can be combatants (why we now have them ourselves).

Again there is a difference between returning fire or firing into likely areas and later finding you killed some kids and actually lining a kid up in your sights and pulling the trigger.

I hate it when people are unable to provide anything but some vague wishy washy answer so I will give it a try to do beter...

1. It makes a difference whether you come up against a unit which has a few kids mixed in or one totally made up of kids.

2. If battle has already been joined and it appears that the kids are also firing their weapons.

3. If you have some knowledge and understanding of what these kids have done or are capable/likely to do makes a difference. (Here I will differentiate between the German kid and his grandfather trying to defend Berlin against the Russian advance and some stoned kid in Sierra Leone wearing a necklace made from human ears - the Russians didn't care but we do - you go figure).

4. And unofficially you put the word out that if your forces come across a unit which includes kids it will be "unlikely" that any of the older soldiers and leaders will be taken prisoner. (let them figure that out).

Now to implement (broadly) what I state above you clearly can't use forces from most western nations. That is why I suggest that if progress is to be made use of proxy AU troops must be made. The UN agrees to the intervention and appoints the commander etc. No western angst and hand-wringing... you can just blame the UN for any excesses (like there certainly were under the Nigeria led ECOMOG intervention in Sierra Leone).

Sri Lanka understood this in their preparation for the final push. They got economic support from China (who doesn't give a rats a... about human rights anyway) as insulation from western criticism. They also know that when dealing with the West give it a year or so and then every thing will be forgiven and forgotten.
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Old 09-17-2010   #19
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Now where kids come into this, well, I think I’d have to agree with some above in saying that it ‘should’ be irrelevant. Technically and legally anyway. How we deal with it morally is less clear cut.

I should think that putting age limits in place is silly and counter productive. M-A Lagrange mentioned up-thread that a 7 year old is not supposed to be able to carry a gun. What if you encounter a 6 year old who is? Be forced to allow him to shoot you because he’s only 6? The moral issue remains. But taking it beyond that through ROE etc. may have an adverse effect in that it gives the enemy something to play with, as JMA point out.
Kiwi,

The point in age limit is for the criminal who recruites children, not for the one confronted to them. A child soldier is a child but and ALSO a soldier.

The age limitis first a "natural thought": a 3 years old kid cannot be used as child soldier. Even, he is extremely vulnerable.
Secondly it is a legal tool: recruiting child soldiers is an offence. Recruiting below 7 years old kid is a graver offense.
Finally, it's biological: it's a question of muscles being developed enough to resist to the backfire from shooting gun.
No one said that you have to get killed or wounded first. If he is 6 and strong enough to shoot with an AK... Then he is a combattant.

As JMM noted, child soldiers are combattants by GV and ICRC criterias, same rules for them.
Setting TOE and ROE just for child soldiers is a nonsense. (Prisonners prefered could be the best input.)
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Old 09-17-2010   #20
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Default Again, JMA, not quite ...

with this:

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from JMA
If he is armed... you shoot him.
Lots of folks run around armed in many areas of the world; e.g., Pashtunistan, Dayuhan's Mountain Province and even Michigan. So, some indicia of hostility must be present.

Now, if where you are people are not armed (unless they are good guys or bad guys), being armed is itself an indicia of hostility. Also, if the person is PID'd as a member of a designated hostile force, whether he is armed or unarmed, hostile or not hostile himself, are not material to the shoot.

As to dealing with war criminals in the field, I'd much prefer on-site military tribunals over not taking prisoners. Once upon a time (through WWI per our Articles), the field commander could convene a board (usually 3 or 5 members) and try war criminals on the spot.

Regards

Mike
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