The Australian legislation, considered in the previous chapter, provides calledout soldiers with explicit powers to use lethal force, combined with a defence of acting in obedience to superior orders. This provides a case study for considering the legal and policy issues, as well as the problems and uncertainties, raised by official measures intended to clothe the armed forces with immunities to protect their personnel from criminal and civil liability for their actions, which may lead to losses of lives, serious injuries, damage to property and other infringements of legal and civil rights. The issues include:

What degrees of violence and violation of legal rights are permissible during domestic military operations? In particular, what is the scope of ‘reasonable and necessary force’? In the event of the unlawful killing or injuring of civilians, can members of the armed forces rely upon the defence of superior orders? What is the legal effect of any relevant manuals, rules of engagement or guidelines issued to govern the conduct of military personnel? Can government ministers or military officers be held liable criminally or civilly for any loss or damage?