APPENDIX D

Fratricide Prevention

Fratricide is defined as the employment of friendly weapons that results in the unforeseen and unintentional death or injury of friendly personnel or damage to friendly equipment. Fratricide prevention is the commanderís responsibility. He is assisted by all leaders across all operating systems in accomplishing this mission.

 

CONTENTS

Section 1 The Role of Training
Section 2 Effects of Fratricide
Section 3 Causes of Fratricide
Section 4 Fratricide Risk Assessment
Section 5 Fratricide Prevention Techniques

SECTION 1 - THE ROLE OF TRAINING

The underlying principle of fratricide prevention is simple: Leaders who know where their soldiers are, and where they want them to fire, can keep those soldiers alive to kill the enemy. At the same time, leaders must avoid at all costs any reluctance to employ, integrate, and synchronize all required operating systems at the critical time and place. They must avoid becoming tentative out of fear of fratricide; rather, they strive to eliminate fratricide risk through tough, realistic, combined arms training in which each soldier and unit achieves the set standard.

Training allows units and soldiers to make mistakes, with the goal of reducing or eliminating the risk of errors occurring in combat. A key role of the company team training program is to teach tank and BFV crews what targets to engage and when to engage them. Just as important, crews must learn and practice restraint in what and when to engage; for example, every tank or BFV commander must know that he must confirm the target as hostile before issuing and executing any fire command.

Eliminating the risk of fratricide is no less critical as a training standard than are other mission requirements. All leaders must know all aspects of the applicable training standard, including fratricide prevention, and then ensure their soldiers train to that standard. For a detailed discussion of crew duties and responsibilities in fratricide prevention, refer to FM 17-12-1-1.

SECTION 2 - EFFECTS OF FRATRICIDE

Fratricide results in unacceptable losses and increases the risk of mission failure; it almost always affects the unitís ability to survive and function. Units experiencing fratricide suffer these consequences:

  • Loss of confidence in the unitís leadership.
  • Increasing self-doubt among leaders.
  • Hesitancy in the employment of supporting combat systems.
  • Oversupervision of units.
  • Hesitancy in the conduct of night operations.
  • Loss of aggressiveness in maneuver (fire and movement).
  • Loss of initiative.
  • Disrupted operations.
  • General degradation of unit cohesiveness, morale, and combat power.

SECTION 3 - CAUSES OF FRATRICIDE

The following paragraphs discuss the primary causes of fratricide. Leaders must identify any of the factors that may affect their units and then strive to eliminate or correct them.

Failures in the direct
fire control plan

These occur when units do not develop effective fire control plans, particularly in the offense. Units may fail to designate target engagement areas or adhere to target priorities, or they may position their weapons incorrectly. Under such conditions, fire discipline often breaks down upon contact.

The company team can use a number of techniques and procedures to help prevent such incidents. An example is "staking in" vehicle and individual positions in the defense, using pickets to indicate the left and right limits of each position. An area of particular concern is the additional planning that must go into operations requiring close coordination between mounted elements and infantry squads. For example, because of the danger posed by discarding petals, sabot rounds should be fired over friendly infantry elements only in extreme emergencies.

Land navigation
failures

Units often stray out of assigned sectors, report wrong locations, and become disoriented. Much less frequently, they employ fire support weapons from the wrong locations. In either type of situation, units that unexpectedly encounter an errant unit may fire their weapons at the friendly force.

Failures in combat
identification

Vehicle commanders and gunners cannot accurately identify thermal or optical signatures near the maximum range of their systems. In limited visibility conditions, units within that range may mistake one another for the enemy.

Inadequate
control measures

Units may fail to disseminate the minimum necessary maneuver fire control measures and fire support coordination measures; they may also fail to tie control measures to recognizable terrain or events. As the battle develops, the plan then cannot address obvious branches and sequels as they occur. When this happens, synchronization fails.

Failures in reporting
and communications

Units at all levels may fail to generate timely, accurate, and complete reports as locations and tactical situations change. This distorts the tactical "picture" available at each level and can lead to erroneous clearance of supporting fires.

Weapons errors

Lapses in individual discipline can result in fratricide. These incidents include charge errors, accidental discharges, mistakes with explosives and hand grenades, and use of incorrect gun data.

Battlefield hazards

A variety of explosive devices and materiel may create danger on the battlefield: unexploded ordnance; unmarked or unrecorded minefields, including scatterable mines; booby traps. Failure to mark, record, remove, or otherwise anticipate these threats will lead to casualties.

SECTION 4 - FRATRICIDE RISK ASSESSMENT

Figure D-1 is a worksheet for evaluating fratricide risk in the context of mission requirements. The worksheet lists six mission-accomplishment factors that affect the risk of fratricide, along with related considerations for each factor. Leaders should assess the potential risk in each area (low, medium, or high) and assign a point value to each (one point for low risk, two for medium risk, three for high risk). They then add the point values to calculate the overall fratricide assessment score.

The resulting score is used only as a guide, however. The leaderís final assessment must be based both on observable risk factors like those on the worksheet and on his "feel" for the intangible factors affecting the operation. Note that descriptive terms are listed only in the low- and high-risk columns of the worksheet. The assessment of each factor will determine whether the risk matches one of these extremes or lies somewhere between them as a medium risk.

SECTION 5 - FRATRICIDE PREVENTION TECHNIQUES

As discussed in Appendix C of this manual, leaders of all units, including the company team, must identify and assess the risks they will face in tactical and training situations. They then must develop and implement controls to limit or, if possible, eliminate the hazards. The five-step risk assessment process outlined in Appendix C is applicable for determining fratricide risk as well. The following list provides examples of fratricide prevention techniques the company team may use:

  • Ensure that all soldiers understand the formations and schemes of maneuver employed by adjacent units.
  • Keep soldiers calm and confident by ensuring that they clearly understand the friendly and enemy situations.
  • Use wingmen to make dual confirmation of enemy sightings prior to engagement; however, avoid becoming too hesitant to fire.
  • Implement and enforce the unitís direct fire weapons control status (WEAPONS FREE, WEAPONS HOLD, or WEAPONS TIGHT).
  • Whenever the enemy situation is vague, implement a more restrictive weapons control status level, but do not take the initiative away from subordinate elements.
  • To prevent battlefield "surprises" when soldiers are fatigued, ensure they receive more, not less, intelligence and operational guidance. Do not, however, oversupervise them or overwhelm them with irrelevant information.
  • Take additional steps in offensive and defensive planning and rehearsals to ensure soldiers understand the correct orientation.
  • Establish and enforce procedures to clear direct and indirect fires.
  • Plan and rehearse actions on contact.

 

 

Potential risk categories
(with variable conditions and point values)

Factors affecting fratricide

Low risk
(1 point)

Medium risk
(2 points)

High risk
(3 points)

UNDERSTANDING OF THE PLAN

Commanderís intent

Complexity

Enemy situation

Friendly situation

ROE/ROI

Clear

Simple

Known

Clear

Clear


Vague

Complex

Unknown

Unclear

Unclear

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS

Intervisibility

Obscuration

Battle tempo

Positive target identification

Favorable

Clear

Slow

100 %


Unfavorable

Obscured

Fast

None (0 %)

CONTROL MEASURES

Command relationships

Audio communications

Visual communications

Graphics

SOPs

Liaison personnel

Location/navigation

Organic

Loud / clear

Easily seen

Standard

Standard

Proficient

Sure


Joint/combined

Jammed

Obscured

Not understood

Not used

Untrained

Unsure

EQUIPMENT (compared to US equipment)

Friendly

Enemy

Similar

Different


Different

Similar

TRAINING

Individual proficiency

Unit proficiency

Rehearsals

Habitual relationships

Endurance

MOS-qualified

Trained

Realistic

Yes

Alert


Untrained

Untrained

None

No

Fatigued

PLANNING TIME (based on 1/3 - 2/3 rule)

Higher headquarters

Own unit

Subordinate elements

Adequate

Adequate

Adequate


Inadequate

Inadequate

Inadequate

Overall risk assessment
(by total point value)

Low risk
26 - 46 points

Medium risk
42 - 62 points

High risk
58 - 78 points

NOTE: Point values alone may not accurately reflect fratricide risk. The commander must tailor his assessment to the unitís requirements.

FIGURE D-1. Fratricide risk assessment worksheet.