The Ethics and Practicality of Using Enemy Weapons in Combat

In many movies, it is shown that combatants use enemy weapons to engage their opponents. But is it common for this to happen in modern

Roland Bartetzko

U.S. troops are shown here in Panama in December 1989 during Operation Just Cause, the mission to topple Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega. (Photo: U.S. Army)

In many movies, it is shown that combatants use enemy weapons to engage their opponents. But is it common for this to happen in modern warfare? Is it regularly acceptable to use enemy weapons on some occasions?

My experience during the Kosovo War

I obtained an AK-47 Kalashnikov from a deceased enemy soldier during the Kosovo War. Our unit had set a booby trap in a small shop in our village, and when a group of enemy soldiers entered the building, they triggered the device. We checked out the damage two days later and found two AK-47s, a backpack, a watch, and some other military gear.

My standard rifle was an Austrian Sturmgewehr 58, which was quite large and heavy as it used the more powerful 7.62 X 51 mm NATO cartridge. Therefore, the smaller AK-47 made for an excellent secondary weapon. Fortunately, our unit also used a lot of AKs, so we had plenty of ammunition for it.

Roland Bartetzko and his ‘Sturmgewehr 58′ during military training
Roland Bartetzko and his ‘Sturmgewehr 58′ during military training (Photo: Private)

When I was fighting in open terrain or a defense position, I took the Sturmgewehr with me because it was more accurate. However, during night fighting, ambushes, or in the forest, the AK proved to be superior. It is worth noting that the Sturmgewehr 58 is essentially an FN FAL rifle, which is one of the most widely used rifles in history and has been adopted by over 90 countries. It gained the reputation of being “The right arm of the Free World” due to its widespread usage among the militaries of many NATO and first-world countries during the Cold War.

Guerilla tactics: Use an enemy weapon in combat

While fighting in a guerrilla army, I did not need to seek permission to use my new weapon. However, using an enemy’s weapon could potentially cause problems in a more conventional army. After several months of combat, many special operations forces and other fighting units with combat experience often create their own rules regarding the use of enemy equipment.

Can a soldier use an enemy weapon in combat?
AK-47 Assault Rifle (Photo: XY)

One such rule is that you are free to do as you please as long as it does not negatively impact your or your unit’s combat performance.

This article’s views and opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Spec Ops Magazine.

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