THE CODE OF CONDUCT
Learning Objective: When you finish this chapter, you
will be able to
Recognize the responsibilities stated in articles I
through VI of the Code of Conduct for members
of the Armed Forces of the United States.
Because of the conduct of a few Americans during
the Korean conflict, President Dwight D. Eisenhower
prescribed a Code of Conduct for members of the
armed forces in 1955. That code provides American
military personnel with a standard of conduct should
they be captured by an enemy. It provides a framework
of ideals and ethical standards that will help personnel
resist the physical, mental, and moral onslaughts of
Many Americans have been prisoners of war
(POWs), and they all agree that life as a POW is hard. A
few POWs were unprepared or lacked the ability to
maintain their faith and loyalty under extreme pressure.
The enemy broke their will, and they gave information
and/or acted in a way that hurt their country and their
If you ever become a POW, dont make up stories;
your interrogator will eventually catch on and could
resort to harsher methods to try to gain information. A
simpler, I dont know, is a better answer. Your captors
will use many methods to gain information. They will
try to get prisoners to collaborate by torturing them or
by trying to turn prisoners against each other. Although
forbidden by the Geneva Convention, history has shown
that some captors have resorted to physical and mental
forms of torture to get the information they want.
Maintain your faith in your God, your country, and your
Remember the first sentence of the first article of
the Code of Conduct, I am an American, fighting in the
forces which guard my country
If you live up to that
principle, you dont ever have to worry about an
investigation concerning your behavior. You wont live
the rest of your life knowing that something you said
harmed your fellow prisoners, comrades in arms, or
your country and its allies.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan issued Executive
Order 12633, amending the Code of Conduct to use
gender-neutral language. First expressed in written
form in 1955, the Code is based on time-honored
concepts and tradition that date back to the days of the
American Revolution. The six articles of the Code of
Conduct are as follows:
I am an American, fighting in the forces which
guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to
give my life in their defense.
I will never surrender of my own free will. If in
command I will never surrender the members of my
command while they still have the means to resist.
If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means
available. I will make every effort to escape and aid
others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special
favors from the enemy.
If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with
my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take
part in any action which might be harmful to my
comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I
will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me
and will back them up in every way.
When questioned, should I become a prisoner of
war, I am required to give name, rank, service number
and date of birth. I will evade answering further
questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral
or written statements disloyal to my country and its
allies or harmful to their cause.
I will never forget that I am an American, fighting
for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated