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U.S. Military’s Rules in Gulf Operations Explained Rules With AM-US-Gulf Rdp Bjt

October 16, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf are operating under a complex set of guidelines that give them permission to defend their ships and sailors against attack, according to Defense Department officials.

The ″rules of engagement,″ the formal name of the guidelines, spell out the exact circumstances under which ships can fire their weapons.

The exact rules are secret because Pentagon officials say they don’t want to alert potential enemies of what American forces might do. Officials have told Congress, however, that the rules give wide latitude to commanders to fire weapons against perceived threats to U.S. sailors or ships.

The rules of engagement were changed after the May 17 attack on the Navy frigate Stark by an Iraqi plane, killing 37 U.S. seamen. The Stark didn’t fire any of its weapons to halt the attack, which was unexpected because the plane was thought to be ″friendly.″

Following that incident, Navy officials told U.S. commanders in the war- torn region to be more alert.

One change in the wake of the Stark incident was to permit commanders to fire against aircraft or ships that go into a pattern from which an attack could be mounted.

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