rights regardless of their conduct or beliefs. Because of
this belief, our nation has adopted the Law of Armed
Conflict to govern the conduct of its military forces
engaged in fighting.
Because naval operations frequently involve
fighting between major units, you dont need a detailed
knowledge of the Law of Armed Conflict. However,
you need a basic knowledge of it since even in
large-scale naval operations some people may violate
the Law of Armed Conflict.
Small-scale operations require a more detailed
knowledge of the Law of Armed Conflict by the naval
personnel involved. You will receive this detailed
knowledge if the need arises.
As a member of a military force, you are allowed
during periods of hostilities to attack and even kill the
lawful combatants of your enemy. Generally speaking,
the term lawful combatants means members of the
military force and civilian personnel engaged in
Just as the Law of Armed Conflict permits certain
hostile actions, it limits the way you may conduct these
actions. It provides for the protection of certain targets
in a war zone to safeguard people and property not
directly involved with military activity. For example, it
expressly forbids attacking or firing on nonmilitary
targets not being used by the enemy for military
purposes. The use of illegal techniques and tactics, such
as rape, pillage, and plunder, is also prohibited.
Unlawful techniques and tactics can backfire on the user
because often they are dangerous in themselves. They
are also likely to enrage the enemy, causing the enemy
to fight harder or respond by using illegal methods, such
as killing POWs. Personnel who violate the Law of
Armed Conflict will find themselves in serious trouble,
including the possibility of trial by court-martial upon
return to the United States.
The fundamental terms of the Law of Armed
Conflict are as follows:
Fight only enemy combatants.
Destroy no more than your mission requires.
Do not attack enemy soldiers, sailors, airmen, or
marines that surrender. Disarm them and turn
them over to your superior.
Never torture or kill prisoners of war and other
Collect and care for wounded, sick, or
shipwrecked survivors, whether friend or enemy,
on land or at sea.
Protect medical personnel and chaplains,
medical and religious facilities, and medical
transportation of the enemy. Treat them with
respect and do not attack them.
Treat all civilians humanely and respect their
property. Do not attack them.
Do your best to prevent any violation of these
fundamental rules. Report any violations to the
appropriate authority promptly.
Do not violate these rules; an order to do so is
Discipline yourself to obey these rules during
combat. Disobedience of the Law of Armed Conflict
dishonors your nation, the Navy, and you. Far from
weakening the enemys will to fight, such disobedience
strengthens it. Disobedience of the Law of Armed
Conflict is also a crime punishable under the Uniform
Code of Military Justice.
REVIEW 2 QUESTIONS
Q1. What is the main purpose of the SOFA?
Q2. What document dictates the treatment of POWs?
Q3. What is the purpose of the Law of Armed