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AFI 36-3204 PROCEDURES FOR APPLYING AS A CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR 15 July 1994

Comments: To view or download the complete regulation, click on the link to it in the box above these comments.

Chapter 1
PREPARING CO APPLICATIONS

1.1. Establishing Claim. The applicant for CO status bears the burden of establishing conscientious objection as grounds for separation or assignment to noncombatant training and service. The applicant must establish by clear and convincing evidence that:

  • The nature or basis of the claim falls under the definition of conscientious objections described in this AFI.

Comments: "AFI" is Air Force Instruction.

  • The applicant's belief is honest, sincere, and deeply held.
  • The applicant's belief is by virtue of religious training or other belief system akin to religion.
  • The applicant opposes participation in war in any form or the bearing of arms..

1.2. Nature of Request. The claimant must set out the exact nature of the request -- that is, whether the claimant requests separation based on conscientious objection (1-0) or for assignment to noncombatant training and service based on conscientious objection (1-A-0).

1.3. Submitting Application. A member of the Air Force who seeks either discharge (1-0) or assignment to noncombatant duties (1-A-0) will include in the application:

1.3.1. A notation of the separation directive that applies:

  • AFI 36-3207, Administrative Separation of Commissioned Officers (formerly AFR 36-12) (active duty officers).
  • AFI 36-3208, Administrative Separation of Airmen (formerly AFR 39-10) (active duty airmen).
  • AFI 36-3209, Separation Procedures for US Air Force Reserve Members (formerly AFR 35-41, volume 3).
  • NGR 36-05 (Air National Guard of the United States (ANGUS) (officers).
  • ANGR 39-10 (ANGUS airmen).

1.3.2. The personal information required by Attachment 2.

Comments: The information required in the application appears in Attachment 2, at the end of this excerpt.

1.3.3. The statement required by Attachment 3 if applicant is requesting noncombatant duties.

1.3.4. Any other information that the applicant desires to submit in support of the case. Note: Members who have departed their duty station for permanent change of station (PCS) reassignment must submit their application at their next duty station.

1.3.5. Forward application according to Table 1.

Comments: "Table 1" is "Table 5.1", inserted here.

Table 5.1. Forwarding Application.

If member is and is then submit the application to the
Regular Air Force
USAFR
ANGUS
serving on active duty servicing MPF/MSPQS.
USAFR
ANGUS
not serving on EAD immediate commander (see note).

NOTE. Commanders of USAFR members request assistance of the consolidated base personnel office (CBPO) or USAFR CBPO nearest member's home address. ANGUS members will be supported by their CBPO.

Comments: "USAFR" is U.S. Air Force Reserve; "ANGUS" is Air National Guard of the U.S.; "MPF" is Military Personnel Flights; "EAD" is Extended Active Duty.

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2.1. General Procedures. Consistent with national policy, the Air Force will recognize members who qualify as bona fide conscientious objectors to the extent practicable and equitable. The Air Force does not recognize objection to a particular war as grounds for COs.

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2.1.1.1. Air Force members who had CO beliefs before entering military service are not eligible for CO status if one of the following circumstances apply:

  • Such beliefs satisfied the requirements for CO classification pursuant to Section 6(j) of the Universal Military Training and Service Act, as amended (Title 50 U.S.C. App 456(j)) and other provisions of law at the time the member entered the service, and the member did not request CO classification by the Selective Service System (SSS) at that time.
  • The member requested CO classification before entering military service, the SSS denied the request, and the member's request for classification as a CO is based on essentially the same grounds (or supported by essentially the same evidence) as the request that was denied by the SSS.

2.1.1.2. Air Force members who had CO beliefs before entering military service are eligible for CO status if the following circumstances apply:

  • The beliefs crystallized after receipt of an induction notice.
  • The member could not request CO classification from the SSS because of SSS regulations prohibiting the submission of such requests after receipt of induction notice.

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2.3. Status of Applicant Whose Request Is Under Consideration.

2.3.1. Commanders during the applications processing period and before a decision is made by the SAF, Personnel Counsel (AFPC), Air Force Military Personnel Center (HQ AFMPC/DPMARS), Air National Guard (HQ ANG/DPP), Air Force Reserves (HQ AFRES/DPAA), and Air Reserve Personnel Center (HQ ARPC/DPA), make every effort to assign applicants to duties that will conflict as little as possible with their asserted beliefs.

2.3.2. Applicants will conform to the normal requirements of military service and satisfactorily perform their assigned duties.

2.3.3. Commanders discipline applicants if they violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) while awaiting action on their application.

2.3.4. Commanders who may want to discipline applicants who are on flying status, see AFI 36-2214, Aviation Service, Aeronautical Ratings, and Badges (formerly AFR 60-13) for disqualification action.

2.4. Effect of Unauthorized Absence of Applicant.

2.4.1. Do not stop processing applications, disciplinary action, or administrative separation actions because the applicant is absent without authorization.

2.4.2. However, do not discharge an applicant whose request for CO classification has been approved until you resolve all disciplinary action.

2.8. Reports of Interview. If the applicant refuses to participate or is uncooperative or unresponsive in the course of the interview, include this fact in the report.

2.8.1. Chaplain Interview. The chaplain will submit a written opinion as to the nature and basis of the applicants sincerity and depth of conviction.

2.8.1.1. The chaplains report must include the reasons for its conclusions.

2.8.1.2. The report must not make any recommendations for approval or disapproval of the application.

2.8.2. Psychiatrist Interview. The psychiatrist will submit a written report of the psychiatric evaluation, including discussion of any psychiatric disorder that would warrant treatment or disposition through medical channels, or any personality disorder that would warrant appropriate administrative action.

2.8.2.1. A psychologist may conduct this evaluation if a psychiatrist is not reasonably available.

2.8.2.2. The psychiatrist or psychologist will not make any recommendations for approval or disapproval of the application.

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3.2. Investigating Officer Actions:

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3.2.2. The investigating officer then expeditiously investigates and conducts a hearing (see paragraph 5.7 for time goals), the purpose of which is to:

  • Give the applicant an opportunity to present any desired evidence in support of the application.
  • Enable the investigating officer to gather all relevant facts.
  • Create a comprehensive record.
  • Facilitate an informed recommendation by the investigating officer and an informed decision
  • on the merits of the claim by higher authority.

3.2.3. The officer making a recommendation may consider the applicant's failure or refusal to submit to questioning under oath or affirmation when evaluating the applicant's claim.

3.2.4. The investigating officer will proceed in the applicant's absence if the applicant fails to appear at the hearing without good cause and the applicant is deemed to have waived an appearance.

3.2.5. Applicant may be represented by legal counsel at applicant's own expense. Legal counsel may be present at the hearing, assist the applicant in the presentation of the case, and examine all items in the file.

3.2.6. The hearing is informal and not governed by the courts-martial rules of evidence except that all verbal testimony presented must be under oath or affirmation.

3.2.6.1. The hearing may receive any relevant evidence.

3.2.6.2. Written statements from persons not present at the hearing may be under oath or affirmation.

3.2.6.3. The hearing is not an adversary proceeding.

3.2.7. The applicant may submit any additional evidence, including sworn or unsworn written statements, and present any witnesses in his/her behalf, applicant is responsible for their attendance.

3.2.7.1. The commander exercising special court-martial jurisdiction will try (if reasonably available) to make available military members requested by the applicant as witnesses.

3.2.7.2. The applicant may question any other witnesses who appear and examine all items in the file.

3.2.8. The Air Force does not require a verbatim record of the hearing.

3.2.8.1. If the applicant wants a written record, he or she must make prior request which includes paying for the preparation, reproduction, and distribution of the record.

3.2.8.2. If applicant elects a verbatim record, the applicant provides a copy to the investigating officer, at no expense to the government, within a reasonable time after the hearing.

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Chapter 4
GUIDELINES FOR APPROVING OR DISAPPROVING APPLICATIONS

4.1. Approving Applications for Classification as CO:

4.1.1. Reviewing authorities may approve the CO classification for any member:

  • Who conscientiously opposes participation in war in any form;
  • Whose opposition is founded on religious training and belief.
  • Whose position is sincere and deeply held.

4.1.2. Reviewing authorities do not grant noncombatant status as a compromise to an applicant claiming CO status.

4.2. Religious Training and Belief:

4.2.1. To approve a CO classification, the reviewing authorities must find that an applicant's moral and ethical beliefs oppose participation in war in any form and that the applicant holds these beliefs with the strength of traditional religious convictions.

4.2.2. The applicant must show that these moral and ethical convictions, once acquired, have directed the applicant's life in the way traditional religious convictions of equal strength, depth, and duration direct the lives of those who have such beliefs. In other words, conscientious objection must be the primary controlling force in the applicant's life.

4.2.3. A primary factor is the sincerity with which the applcant holds the belief. Exercise great care in determining whether the applicant honestly and genuinely holds asserted beliefs.

4.2.3.1. Determine sincerity by evaluating the applicant's thinking and life style in its totality, past and present.

4.2.3.2. Information the applicant presents should clearly establish that avoidance of military service is not the basis of the claim.

4.2.4. In evaluating applications, carefully examine and weigh the conduct of applicants, in particular their outward manifestation of their beliefs.

4.2.5. Consider the following relevant factors:

  • Training in the home and church.
  • General demeanor and pattern of conduct.
  • Participation in religious activities.
  • Whether the applicant gained ethical or moral convictions through training, study, contemplation, or other activity comparable in rigor and dedication to formulating traditional religious convictions.
  • Credibility of the applicant.
  • Credibility of persons supporting the claim.

4.2.6. Be particularly careful not to rule out bona fide beliefs simply because those beliefs are incompatible with one's own.

4.2.6.1. It is not necessary that an applicant belong to a church or adhere to particular theological tenets for the Air Force to grant separation or assignment to noncombatant training and service for COs.

4.2.6.2. The applicants affiliation with a church or other group that advocates conscientious objection as a tenet of its creed is not necessarily conclusive of an applicants position or belief.

4.2.6.3. Conversely, if an applicant is affiliated with a church or group that does not teach conscientious objection such affiliation does not necessarily rule out an applicants adherence to conscientious objection beliefs.

4.2.7. Where an applicant is or has been a member of a church, religious organization, or religious sect, and where applicants claim of conscientious objection is related to the membership, you may inquire about the membership, and the teachings of the church, religious organization, or religious sect, as well as the applicants religious activity.

4.2.7.1. However, the fact that the applicant may disagree with, or not subscribe to, some of the tenets of applicants church does not necessarily discredit applicants claim.

4.2.7.2. The personal convictions of each member are controlling so long as they derive from moral, ethical, or religious beliefs.

4.2.8. Do not deny an applicant who is otherwise eligible for CO status simply because conscientious objection beliefs influence his or her views on domestic or foreign policy.

4.2.8.1. The task is to decide whether the applicant sincerely holds the beliefs, and whether they govern the claimants actions both in word and deed.

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Attachment 2
REQUIRED INFORMATION TO BE SUPPLIED BY APPLICANT FOR DISCHARGE OR NONCOMBATANT SERVICE

Any member seeking discharge from the Air Force or assignment to noncombatant duties as a CO must provide, at a minimum, the information indicated below. This in no way bars the Air Force from requiring additional information. The individual may submit such other additional information as desired.

A2.1. General Information Concerning Applicant:

A2.1.1. Full name.

A2.1.2. Social Security number (SSN).

A2.1.3. Selective Service number (if applicable).

A2.1.4. Service address.

A2.1.5. Permanent home address.

A2.1.6. Name and address of each school and college attended (after age 16), dates of attendance, and the type of school (public, church, military, commercial, etc.).

A2.1.7. A chronological list of all occupations, positions, jobs, or types of work (other than work after age 16 performed while in school or college) whether for monetary compensation or not. Include the type of work, name of employer, address of employer, and the "from" and "to" date for each position or job held.

A2.1.8. All former addresses (after age 16) and dates of residence at those addresses.

A2.1.9. Parents names and addresses. Indicate whether they are living or deceased.

A2.1.10. The religious denomination or sect of both parents.

A2.1.11. Was application made to the Selective Service System (local board) for classification as a conscientious objector before entry into the Air Force?

  • To which local board?
  • What decision was made by the board, if known?

A2.1.12. When the applicant has served fewer than 180 days in the military service:

  • A statement as to whether they are willing to perform work under the Selective Service civilian work program for COs, if discharged as a CO.
  • A statement as to whether they consent to a work order for such work issued by their local Selective Service Board.

A2.2. Training and Belief:

A2.2.1. A description of the nature of the belief that requires the applicant to seek separation from the military service or assignment to noncombatant training and duty for reasons of conscience.

A2.2.2. An explanation as to how the beliefs changed or developed, to include an explanation of the factors (how, when, from whom, or from what source applicant received training or acquired belief) contributing to conscientious objection beliefs.

A2.2.3. An explanation as to when these beliefs became incompatible with military service, and why.

A2.2.4. An explanation as to the circumstances, if any, under which the applicant believes in the use of force, and to what extent, under any foreseeable circumstances.

A2.2.5. An explanation as to how the applicants daily life style has changed as a result of the beliefs and what future actions applicant plans to continue to support applicants beliefs.

A2.2.6. A description of what most conspicuously demonstrates the consistency and depth of the beliefs that gave rise to the claim.

A2.3. Participation in Organizations:

A2.3.1. Information as to whether applicant has ever been a member of any military organization or establishment before entering present term of service. If so, applicant must give the name and address of such organization along with the reasons why applicant was a member.

A2.3.2. A statement as to whether applicant is a member of a religious sect or organization. If so, the statement must show:

  • The name of the sect and the name and location of its governing body or head.
  • When, where, and how the applicant became a member of said sect or organization.
  • The name and location of any church, congregation, or meeting that the applicant customarily attends and the extent of the applicant's active participation.
  • The name, title, and present address of the pastor or leader of such church, congregation, or meeting.
  • A description of the organization's or sect's creed or official statements, if any, and if known, any statements of the religious sect or organization regarding participation in war.

A2.3.3. A description of applicant's relationships with and activities in all organizations with which applicant is or has been affiliated, other than military, political, or labor organizations.

A2.4. References. Any additional information, such as letters of reference or official statements of organizations to which the applicant belongs or refers to in the application, that the applicant wishes the Air Force authority reviewing the application to consider. The burden is on the applicant to obtain and forward such information.

AUTHORITY: Title 50, App U.S.C., Section 456(j), 10 U.S.C. 8013, and Executive Order 9397.

PURPOSE: Used by member to apply for conscientious objector status.

ROUTINE USE: Reviewing authorities use the recorded information to make a decision to grant or deny the requested conscientious objector status. Appropriate organizations also use the information, when appropriate, to withhold promotion, remove members from flying status, and affect members utilization.

DISCLOSURE IS VOLUNTARY: If applicant does not furnish the information, applicant may not receive the requested conscientious objector status.

PRIVACY ACT STATEMENT: Applicant must supply this required information for discharge or noncombatant service (this attachment).