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Rules of Engagement

Major General Perry

Sensing a crisis in Yemen, the U.S. government sends Col. Terry Childers (Samuel L. Jackson) to remove the U.S. ambassador and his family. Childers succeeds but ends up killing 80 civilians in the process. Fearing a court martial that could put him behind bars for the rest of his life, Childers looks to Col. Hayes Hodges (Tommy Lee Jones) to defend him in court.

This was one of the most extensive training operations we had undertaken to date. It was also a real challenge to go from one era and then change everything and begin 30 years later. By far the toughest challenge was operating out of our Desert One Training Base. The western Sahara Desert is inhospitable at the best of times. We were fortunate to have veteran Director in William Friedkin and Producer Dick Zanuck who understood what we were trying to do and backed us all the way. It was also a boon to have full support of the King of Morocco, who is a big film fan. Without his support we never would have been able to pull off the helicopter sequences which were so critical in the film.

And speaking of helicopters…it doesn’t take an overly-sharp eye to note that we lifted off the USS Iwo Jima (steaming in the Pacific near Catalina Island) in U.S. Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, and then were next seen crossing the coast of Yemen in CH-47 Chinook helicopters. Both are dual-rotor aircraft, but there is a significant difference. It was the only way we could get the job done, as the Moroccan Air Force does not fly CH-46s.

It was a solid film and made several excellent points about restrictive and bureaucratic Rules of Engagement that too often get people killed in crisis situations overseas.

I’m also pleased with my performance as Major General Perry in this film. It was a meaty part which gave me a very pleasant opportunity to work with some really fine actors.

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