Category: 

What Is Friendly Fire?

Combat aircraft like the F-16 Fighting Falcon carry an Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) transponder that signals allies that they are a friendly aircraft.
Pilots who fly close air support and attack aircraft like the A-10 must use caution when firing because their targets are usually near friendly forces.
Article Details
  • Originally Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Revised By: A. Joseph
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 April 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
There has never been a documented human death associated with a tarantula bite.  more...

April 19 ,  1775 :  The American Revolution began.  more...

"Friendly fire" is a military term that refers to the discharge of a weapon in the direction of fellow soldiers or allies, often resulting in injury or death. In some circles, the terms “amicide,” for killing a friend, or “fratricide,” for killing brothers in arms, are preferred to the “friendly fire” euphemism. These incidents have been a part of firearm warfare since it began, although the development of more sophisticated and deadly weapons — especially those that can be used at longer ranges — has made the problem more widespread.

Exceptions

In the military, the definition of friendly fire excludes incidents in which members of the military deliberately fire on their allies or fellow soldiers. Accidental shootings, such as when the weapon was accidentally fired, also are not included. The definition typically includes only shots fired during active engagements with the enemy. Known incidents of friendly fire and accidents are investigated to learn about why they happened in an effort to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Ad

Possible Causes

Many things can lead to friendly fire. One of the most common is miscommunication, which can result in unclear orders or lack of knowledge about troop movements. Adequate communication on the battlefield can sometimes be very challenging, especially in a chaotic environment. Radios, field telephones and signaling systems are used to address the problem, which becomes much more complicated when multiple forces such as ground troops and aircraft are coordinating an attack. When allied troops are added to the mixture, maintaining lines of communication can be even more difficult, especially if there are language barriers.

Poor terrain and visibility also contribute to friendly fire. Soldiers often must fight on land with which they are not familiar. When being fired upon by enemy troops, the direction from which shots are coming can get confusing. The addition of poor weather conditions and combat stress can lead to an incident in which a soldier mistakenly believes that he or she is shooting at the enemy. When a leader issues unclear or ambiguous orders, this can also be problematic when combined with conditions that prevent soldiers from using their own judgment.

Frequency

The exact number of friendly fire incidents that occur during combat is unclear. It can sometimes be difficult to determine whether a soldier has been killed by friend or foe, and soldiers have been known to conceal these incidents. Estimates suggest that 2-25 percent of war-related injuries and deaths might be caused by friendly fire. Most military organizations provide extensive training to their soldiers to try and prevent these incidents, which can affect troop morale, mission success and public image in addition to causing death or injury.

Ad

Discuss this Article

gerald88
Post 3

It means to be shot by your own army people.

FootballKing
Post 2

@Marknelson, the gaming that you speak of sounds like a lot of fun. Unfortunately, in the real and atrocious world of the war, friendly fire means people actually die. It's sad to think that there are men and women that loose their lives simply over a mistake. With so many soldiers already in danger from being injured or killed on the battle lines, it is daunting to think that some will die accidentally at the hands of their fellow men.

I guess in a sense you could think of it as a way that war is the most evil thing. Not only does it kill your enemy but it kills you. I am saddened by this but it is the reality of the world. Maybe someday we will be able to come to the realization that life just isn't that useless and we need to actually value it enough to never war again. Is it possible? I don't know but I sure hope so.

Marknelson
Post 1

In online video games Friendly Fire (or FF) is normally left on for "Realism" however some people kill teammates just for fun and should be banned.

But FF does have a perk, if a player is blocking a door or window you can just shoot them out of the way, of course they ask to ban you. but they made the trouble in the first place. but FF is better off if you dont want to kill your allies.

p.s. Im a MachineGunner on Day of Defeat: Source

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email