Skip to main content

Should the Best Offense Ever Be a Good Defense? The Public Authority to Use Force in Military Operations: Recalibrating the Use of Force Rules in the Standing Rules of Engagement

Posted by on Saturday, January 30, 2016 in Articles, Blog, Vol. 49 No. 1, Volume 49.

Colonel Gary P. Corn is a Judge Advocate in the United States Army, currently serving as Staff Judge Advocate for United States Cyber Command. Colonel Corn’s Article discusses the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Standing Rules of Engagement/Standing Rules for the Use of Force (SROE/SRUF) for U.S. Forces.

The SROE/SRUF provides strategic guidance to the armed forces on the authority to use force during all military operations. The standing self-defense rules in the SROE for national, unit, and individual self- defense form the core of these use-of-force authorities. The SROE self- defense rules are incorrectly built on a unitary jus ad bellum framework, legally inapplicable below the level of national self- defense. Coupled with the pressures of sustained counter-insurgency operations, this misalignment of individual and unit self-defense authorities has led to a conflation of self-defense principles and offensive targeting authorities under the Law of Armed Conflict. In order to reverse this trend and realign individual and unit self-defense with governing legal frameworks, this Article considers self-defense through the lens of the public authority justification to better reflect the status of servicemembers as state actors whose actions are subject to the domestic and international legal obligations of the state.

Leave a Response

ExpressO Top 10 Law Review


The Journal is pleased to announce its 2018-2019 Board of Editors. Complete-Masthead-2018-2019

Vanderbilt University Law School Professor Michael A. Newton’s 2016 VJTL Article entitled How the International Criminal Court Threatens Treaty Norms  was cited by the International Criminal Court prosecutor’s November 2017 filing seeking investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan.

May 2018 Issue on the Second Israel Defense Forces International Conference on the Law of Armed Conflict. Read more about the Journal’s May 2018 issue here.

Thank you to everyone who attended the Journal’s 50th Anniversary celebration on October 5, 2017! View photos from the event here and read about the Journal’s history here.

Connect with the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law on LinkedIn.

The Journal is pleased to listed as the #5 International Law Journal by the 2017 Washington and Lee Law Journal Rankings.

The Journal is very excited about the success of our February 2017 Symposium, “Sovereign Conduct on the Margins of the Law.” Read more about our February 2017 Symposium here

Please join us in congratulating the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 2017-2018 Write-On Competition Winners.

Video is available from the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law’s 2015-2016 SymposiumThis is Not a Drill: Confronting Legal Issues in the Wake of International Disasters. Watch here.