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(60) In order for Soldiers and commanders to accurately balance these competing interests, SRUF must provide definitive guidance on the employment of deadly force.
(63) In comparison, the new SRUF simply states: "Deadly force is to be used only when all lesser means have failed or cannot reasonably be employed." (64) By changing the definition from a list of elements that must be satisfied prior to using deadly force to a mere caveat requiring Soldiers to use lesser means if reasonable, the definition of "deadly force" is decidedly more aggressive.
While the previous RUF stated: "Deadly force is justified only under conditions of extreme necessity," (66) the current SRUF provides only that "[d]eadly force is to be used only when all lesser means have failed or cannot reasonably be employed." (67) The "necessity" concept is central to any discussion of deadly force.
As with most of the changes in the current SRUF, the omission of the term "extreme necessity," in and of itself, will likely not lead Soldiers and their commanders to believe that they may use deadly force without necessity.
The current SRUF, however, provides for the "Inherent Right of Self-Defense." It states: Inherent Right of Self-Defense.
(84) As such, the inclusion of "inherent right and obligation" instead of the previous "when reasonably necessary" language in the self-defense portion of SRUF may not comport with the more nuanced application of force in domestic operations.
Another addition to the current SRUF acts as an ambiguous qualifier to the use of deadly force in certain circumstances.
The addition of this language has injected unnecessary ambiguity into the SRUF. First, no where in the SRUF or accompanying documents is a definition of "directly related to the assigned mission" found.
The terms "hostile act" and "hostile intent" are also new additions to the SRUF. (91) In previous versions, the self-defense passage contained the only guidance regarding "hostile" individuals, stating that force could be used against "a hostile person(s) to protect law enforcement or security personnel who reasonably believe themselves or others to be in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm by the hostile person(s)." (92) The new SRUF defines a "hostile act" as "[a]n attack or other use of force against the United States, U.S.
While these new definitions do provide additional clarity to the definition of a hostile person, they also introduce international law concepts into SRUF. (94) While these terms may arguably be similar to the "hostile person" language used by previous versions, the language, and not necessarily the meaning, may be the problem.
This right of self-defense is present regardless of whether the SRUF gives express permission to use force against those impeding the mission.
Although the answer should be no, the SRUF would not assist in arriving at this conclusion.
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