The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 11-15-2002, 08:39 PM
Chubbs Chubbs is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2001
In war, are there rules against shooting down paratroopers?

I think it has something to do with the Geneva Convention. I’m not familiar with the rules of war but wouldn’t that be the best time to shoot at them? I thought all is fair in love and war.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 11-15-2002, 09:05 PM
MEBuckner MEBuckner is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Posts: 10,330
It appears to be a misunderstanding of something from an additional protocol to the original Geneva Conventions. Article 42 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol 1) states:
Quote:
1. No person parachuting from an aircraft in distress shall be made the object of attack during his descent.

2. Upon reaching the ground in territory controlled by an adverse Party, a person who has parachuted from an aircraft in distress shall be given an opportunity to surrender before being made the object of attack, unless it is apparent that he is engaging in a hostile act.

3. Airborne troops are not protected by this Article.
So, according to this treaty, you aren't supposed to shoot at pilots bailing out of shot-down aircraft, but paratroopers in the air are fair game. (I believe the U.S. still has not ratified the two additional Geneva protocols from the 1970s, as opposed to the four original conventions of 1949.)
__________________
"In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves." -- Carl Sagan
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 11-16-2002, 07:49 AM
Daylon Daylon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Hell with that....if I'm at war and I have a bunch of slow moving enemy in front of me....they're toast... no questions asked.

just my opinion...

D.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 11-16-2002, 09:37 AM
Mac Guffin Mac Guffin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
If I recall correctly from my Air Force days, if a downed pilot started shooting at you (most carry sidearms) while still aloft parachuting, then he was fair game as well. Paratroopers were always targets.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 11-16-2002, 10:04 AM
cornflakes cornflakes is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Bubbaville
Posts: 4,505
When this was discussed a while back someone explained that paratroopers can be killed because they are jumping into combat. Downed pilots are jumping out of combat.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 11-16-2002, 11:48 AM
starfish starfish is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
cornflakes is correct. Consider an invasion from sea, you don't have to wait for the troops to reach land before you shoot.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 11-16-2002, 01:11 PM
Barks' dog food Barks' dog food is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
I just reacently saw a discussion about shooting at pilots in parachutes. Someone reasoned that if the pilot was landing on his own side of the lines it was OK to shoot at him because he wasn't surrendering and if he lived he would get a new plane and fight tomorrow.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 11-16-2002, 02:25 PM
Slugworth Slugworth is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
There was a documentary on the other day, where a WWII vet recalled a time he saw a german pilot shooting guys who had ejected from their planes. He got really pissed, surgically took out the german's plane, giving him time to eject, and then put almost all his remaining ammo into him as he parachuted down. So, it was definitely *not* the thing to do, at least back then. Unless you *wanted* someone to get mad at you, and then shred your body beyond all recognition with 6, 50 cal guns.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 11-16-2002, 05:37 PM
Liberal Liberal is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
How do you which is which between a pilot and a paratrooper? Do they wear orange "Paratrooper" blazers or something?
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 11-16-2002, 06:32 PM
Jaakko Jaakko is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
There's surprisingly much shooting down of bailed out pilots between US and German pilots. I wonder how it got started.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 11-16-2002, 09:43 PM
FSimons FSimons is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
The thing was, in WW2 the situation hadn't really been anticipated, and wasn't covered by the Geneva Conventions, so authorities kind of winged it.
The general idea that people came up with, was that pilots parachuting over enemy territory would be going to almost-certain captivity, so shouldn't be shot at; while pilots parachuting over their own territory would be returning to the fight the next day, if not sooner, and so were fair game.

How it actually worked out, over Germany at least, was that American fliers were instructed to shoot at German pilots, but most of them didn't. German pilots weren't really supposed to be shooting at American fliers, but a lot of them did so, anyway.

After the war, it was decided that, regardless of which territory they were over; pilots bailing out their aircraft were no longer in the fight, no longer capable of "offering meaningful resistance" and not able to defend themselves; therefore they should not be shot at. MEBuckner's got the details.

Paratroopers are a completely different matter, you don't have to wait until they reach the ground, you can open up on them with everything you've got as soon as you see them.

Libertarian, in real life it's not that hard to tell the difference: Pilots show up when there's aerial fighting going on, one at a time or sometimes in pairs or trios (gunfire, missiles, and the nearby presence of burning, crashing airplanes are also diagnostic).
Paratroopers come in great big thundering groups, all at once from those big, low-flying transport-type aircraft. As far as that goes, they use different kinds of parachutes, too.
The only time you're going to have a hard time telling the difference is if you shoot down a paratroop transport, and the pilots have to bail out. Then they take their chances along with the paratroopers.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 11-16-2002, 10:12 PM
Garfield226 Garfield226 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Quote:
Originally posted by FSimons
The only time you're going to have a hard time telling the difference is if you shoot down a paratroop transport, and the pilots have to bail out. Then they take their chances along with the paratroopers.

That makes for quite an amusing visual in my mind, let me tell you...
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:59 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.