20 Mar 2007

PR# 2007-207

RC-East adjusts escalation of force procedures

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – In an effort to avoid civilian casualties and increase the safety of the Afghan people, Regional Command-East has adjusted the escalation of force techniques used by its soldiers.

The changes pertaining to EOF are steps to prevent the loss of innocent civilian life during increased attacks by opponents of the Government of Afghanistan.

“We want the Afghan people to know that we value their partnership in defeating enemies of their government, and we take every precaution to assure their safety, especially when insurgents disregard their welfare by attacking in populated areas,” said Maj. Chris Belcher, Regional Command-East spokesman. “These procedures are designed to protect the lives of innocent Afghan civilians as well as ensure the safety of Afghan National Security Forces and ISAF troops.”

ISAF and ANSF troops must make split-second decisions to identify hostile intent and often rely on the use of a warning shot to determine the intentions of a potential threat.

The practice of firing warning shots at potential threats has resulted in accidental injuries and has had a detrimental effect on the overall relationship between ISAF and the people they are charged to protect, according to Maj. Richard Pitchford, Regional Command-East Force Protection Officer. The enemy is executing attacks in civilian populated areas with the hopes these deaths can be used as propaganda tools to garner sympathy for the insurgency.

According to Pitchford, when time and circumstances permit, soldiers will use the following revised EOF measures: use visual warnings such as flags and hand signals; employ audible warnings through air horns or sirens; employ non-lethal devices such as a green laser light to alert drivers to stop their vehicles; orient weapons to the potential threat and, finally, fire a warning shot as a last resort. 

Soldiers whose daily job is to travel in convoys around the country are subjected to extensive comprehensive training prior to their deployment.

Regional Command-East is conducting scenario-based training as part of ongoing actions to ensure ISAF forces are ready to react appropriately to any situation. Servicemembers have received new equipment to increase non-lethal, audio and visual warning capabilities.  The items are designed to warn civilians of approaching convoys, eliminating surprise and confusion as to how Afghans should react to oncoming ISAF vehicles.

Every ISAF member retains the right and responsibility for self defense, and the use of self defense is authorized upon positive identification of a hostile act or intent.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/