We've all heard the saying: "All is fair in love and war." While it may hold true for love, the war part couldn't be further from the truth for our troops.
According to the "Sanremo Handbook on Rules of Engagement" posted by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law, the rules do not dictate how the troops achieve results. But they do say what's unacceptable.
Simply put, the rules of engagement establish bounds. And like in sports, stepping out of bounds can result in penalties — war crimes convictions.
These rules can make your job more challenging. As Mike Downs — a Marine during the Vietnam War — found out the hard way.
When he reported to Hue City, Vietnam, to assist a brother division, he realized the law of war was making U.S. efforts and firepower useless.
"We were not to use any indirect fire weapons, interpreted by us to be artillery," Downs said in the video below.
But that all changed when the new commander relaxed the rules.
"If you even suspect there's enemy in the building, blow the building down," he said. "This was war as we understood."
This American Heroes Channel video shows how the enemy's fighting chance dissipated when the rules of engagement were loosened: