Comments: To view or download the complete regulation, click on the link to it in the box above these comments.
It is DoD policy that:
4.1. Administrative discharge due to conscientious objection prior to the completion of an obligated term of service is discretionary with the Military Department concerned, based on a judgment of the facts and circumstances in the case. However, insofar as may be consistent with the effectiveness and efficiency of the Military Services, a request for classification as a conscientious objector and relief from or restriction of military duties in consequence thereof will be approved to the extent practicable and equitable within the following limitations:
4.1.1. Except as provided in paragraph 4.1.2., no member of the Armed Forces who possessed conscientious objection beliefs before entering military service is eligible for classification as a Conscientious Objector if such beliefs satisfied the requirements for classification as a Conscientious Objector pursuant to title 50 United States Code (U.S.C.) App. 456(j) (Reference (d)) and other provisions of law, and:
18.104.22.168. The applicant failed to request classification as a Conscientious Objector by the Selective Service System; or
22.214.171.124. The applicant requested classification as a Conscientious Objector before entering military service, such request was denied on the merits by the Selective Service System, and the applicant's request for classification as a Conscientious Objector is based upon essentially the same grounds, or supported by essentially the same evidence, as the request that was denied by the Selective Service System.
4.1.2. Nothing contained in this Instruction renders ineligible for classification as a Conscientious Objector a member of the Armed Forces who possessed Conscientious Objector beliefs before entering military service if:
126.96.36.199. Such beliefs crystallized after receipt of an induction notice; and
188.8.131.52. The applicant could not request classification as a Conscientious Objector by the Selective Service System because of Selective Service System regulations prohibiting the submission of such requests after receipt of an induction notice.
5.1. General. The criteria set forth herein provide policy and guidance in considering applications for separation or for assignment to non-combatant training and service based on conscientious objection. Consistent with the national policy to recognize the claims of authentic Conscientious Objectors in the Military Service, an application for classification as a Conscientious Objector may be approved (subject to the limitations of paragraph 4.1.) for any individual:
5.1.1. Who is conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form;
5.1.2. Whose opposition is based on religious training and/or belief; and
5.1.3. Whose position is firm, fixed, sincere and deeply held.
5.2. Religious Training and/or Belief
5.2.1. In order to find that an applicant's moral and ethical beliefs are against participation in war in any form and are held with the strength of traditional religious convictions, 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 have directed the lives of those whose beliefs are clearly found in traditional religious convictions. In other words, the belief upon which conscientious objection is based must be the primary controlling force in the applicant's life.
5.2.2. A primary factor to be considered is the sincerity with which the belief is held. Great care must be exercised in seeking to determine whether asserted beliefs are honestly and genuinely held. Sincerity is determined by an impartial evaluation of the applicant's thinking and living in its totality, past and present. Care must be exercised in determining the integrity of belief and the consistency of application. Information presented by the claimant can be sufficient to convince that the claimant's personal history reveals views and actions strong enough to demonstrate that expediency or avoidance of military service is not the basis of the applicant's claim.
184.108.40.206. In evaluating applications, the conduct of applicants, in particular their outward manifestation of the beliefs asserted, will be carefully examined and given substantial weight.
220.127.116.11. Relevant factors that should be considered in determining an applicant's claim of conscientious objection include: training in the home and religious organization; general demeanor and pattern of conduct; participation in religious activities; whether ethical or moral convictions were gained through training, study, contemplation, or other activity comparable in rigor and dedication to the processes by which traditional religious convictions are formulated; credibility of the applicant; and credibility of persons supporting the claim.
5.2.3. Particular care must be exercised not to deny the existence of authentic beliefs simply because those beliefs are incompatible with one's own.
18.104.22.168. Religious organization membership or adherence to particular theological tenets are not required to warrant separation or assignment to non-combatant training and service for conscientious objectors.
22.214.171.124. Mere affiliation with religious organizations or other groups that advocate conscientious objection as a tenet of its creed may not necessarily determine an applicant's position or belief.
126.96.36.199. Conversely, affiliation with a religious organization or group that does not teach conscientious objection does not necessarily rule out adherence to conscientious objection beliefs in any given case.
188.8.131.52. Where an applicant is or has been a member of a religious organization or tradition, and where the applicant's claim of conscientious objection is related to such membership, inquiry may properly be made as to the fact of membership, and the teaching of the religious organization or tradition, as well as the applicant's religious activity. However, the fact that the applicant may disagree with, or not subscribe to, some of the tenets of the applicant's religious organization does not necessarily discredit the claim. The personal convictions of each individual will be controlling so long as personal convictions are derived from the applicant's moral, ethical, or religious beliefs.
184.108.40.206. Moreover, an applicant who is otherwise eligible for conscientious objector status may not be denied that status simply because his or her conscientious objection influences personal views concerning the nation's domestic or foreign policies. The task is to decide whether the beliefs professed are sincerely held, and whether they govern the claimant's actions both in word and deed.
5.3. The burden of establishing a claim of conscientious objection as a ground for separation or assignment to non-combatant training and service is on the applicant. To this end, the applicant must establish by clear and convincing evidence that:
5.3.1. The nature or basis of the claim comes within the definition of and criteria prescribed herein for conscientious objection; and
5.3.2. The applicant's belief in connection therewith is firm, fixed, sincere, and deeply held.
5.4. The applicant has the burden of determining and setting forth the exact nature of his or her request, i.e., whether for separation based on conscientious objection (Class 1-O) or for assignment to non-combatant training and service based on conscientious objection (Class 1-AO).
5.5. An applicant claiming a Class 1-O Conscientious Objector status shall not be granted a Class 1-A-O Conscientious Objector status as a compromise.
7.1. A member of the Armed Forces who seeks either separation or assignment to noncombatant duties by reason of conscientious objection will submit an application. (See Privacy Act statement in Enclosure 5.) The applicant will indicate whether he or she is seeking a discharge or assignment to non-combatant duties and will include the following items:
7.1.1. The information required by Enclosure 2.
Enclosure 2 is below, at the end of this text.
7.1.2. Any other items that the applicant desires to submit in support of his or her case.
7.3. The applicant shall be personally interviewed by a chaplain who shall submit a written opinion as to the nature and basis of the applicant's claim, and as to the applicant's sincerity and depth of conviction. The chaplain's report shall include the reasons for the conclusions contained within the report. The chaplain should ensure the applicant is made aware that the conversation is not privileged and will be used in an official report. In addition, the applicant will be interviewed by a psychiatrist (or by a medical officer if a psychiatrist is not reasonably available) who shall submit a written report of psychiatric evaluation indicating the presence or absence of any psychiatric disorder that would warrant treatment or disposition through medical channels, or such character or personality disorder as to warrant recommendation for appropriate administrative action. This opinion and report will become part of the "case file." If the applicant refuses to participate or is uncooperative or unresponsive in the course of the interviews, this fact will be included in the statement and report filed by the chaplain and psychiatrist or medical officer.
7.4. Commanders at levels directed by the respective Military Department's headquarters will appoint a Chief Warrant Officer in the grade of WO-3 or higher or a Commissioned Officer in the grade of O-3 or higher to investigate the applicant's claim. ...
7.4.2. The investigating officer will conduct a hearing on the application to: afford the applicant an opportunity to present any evidence he or she desires in support of the application; enable the investigating officer to ascertain and assemble all relevant facts to create a comprehensive record; and to facilitate an informed recommendation by the investigating officer and an informed decision on the merits by higher authority. In this regard, any failure or refusal of the applicant to submit to questioning under oath or affirmation before the investigating officer may be considered by the officer making the recommendation and evaluation of the applicant's claim. If the applicant fails to appear at the hearing without good cause, the investigating officer may proceed in the applicant's absence. The applicant will then be deemed to have waived his or her appearance.
220.127.116.11. If the applicant desires, he or she shall be entitled to representation by legal counsel, at his or her own expense. The legal counsel shall be permitted to be present at the hearing, assist the applicant in the presentation of the applicant's case, and examine all items in the file.
18.104.22.168. The hearing will be informal in character and will not be governed by the rules of evidence employed by courts-martial except that all oral testimony presented shall be under oath or affirmation. Any relevant evidence may be received. Statements obtained from persons not present at the hearing need not be made under oath or affirmation. The hearing is not an adversarial proceeding.
22.214.171.124. The applicant may submit any additional evidence that the he or she desires (including sworn or unsworn statements) and present any witnesses in the applicant's own behalf, but the applicant shall be responsible for securing the witnesses' attendance. The installation or local commander will render all reasonable assistance in making available military members of his or her command requested by the applicant as witnesses. Further, the applicant will be permitted to question any other witnesses who appear and to examine all items in the file.
7.4.3. At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigating officer will prepare a written report that will contain the following:
126.96.36.199. A statement of the investigating officer's conclusions as to the underlying basis of the applicant's conscientious objection and the sincerity of the applicant's beliefs, including reasons for such conclusions.
188.8.131.52. Subject to paragraph 5.5., the investigating officer's recommendations for disposition of the case, including all reasons therefore. The actions recommended will be limited to the following:
184.108.40.206.1. Denial of any classification as a Conscientious Objector; or
220.127.116.11.2. Classification as a Class 1-A-O Conscientious Objector; or
18.104.22.168.3. Classification as a Class 1-O Conscientious Objector.
22.214.171.124. The investigating officer's report, along with the individual's application, all interviews with chaplains and physicians, evidence received as a result of the investigating officer's hearing, and any other items submitted by the applicant will constitute the record. The investigating officer's conclusions and recommended disposition will be based on the entire record and not merely on the evidence produced at the hearings. A copy of the record will be furnished to the applicant at the time it is forwarded to the commander who appointed the investigating officer, and the applicant will be informed that he or she has the right to submit a rebuttal to the report within the time prescribed by the Military Department concerned.
7.5. The case record will be forwarded to the commander of the officer who appointed the investigating officer, where it shall be reviewed for completeness and legal sufficiency. If necessary, the case may be returned to the investigating office for further investigation. When the record is complete, the authority who appointed the investigating officer shall forward it with his or her personal recommendation for disposition, and the reasons therefore, through the appropriate chain of command to the commander authorized to make a final decision.
7.7. When approval authority has not been delegated or when the general court-martial convening authority recommends disapproval, the Secretary of the Military Department concerned will make a final decision based on the entire record. Any additional information other than the official service record of the applicant considered by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned that is adverse to the applicant, and that the applicant has not had an opportunity to comment upon or refute, will be made a part of the record and the applicant shall be given an opportunity to comment upon or refute the material before a final decision is made. The reasons for an adverse decision will be made a part of the record and will be provided to the applicant.
7.8. Processing of applications can be suspended by the unauthorized absence of the applicant subsequent to the initiation of the application, or by the institution of disciplinary action or administrative separation proceedings against the applicant. However, an applicant whose request for classification as a Conscientious Objector has been approved will not be discharged until all disciplinary action has been resolved.
7.9. To the extent practicable under the circumstances, during the period applications are being processed and until a decision is made, every effort will be made to assign applicants to duties that will conflict as little as possible with their asserted beliefs. Unless the Military Department concerned provides otherwise, an applicant shall be required to comply with active duty or transfer orders in effect at the time of his or her application or subsequently issued and received. During the period applications are being processed, applicants will be expected to conform to the normal requirement of military service and to perform such duties as are assigned. Applicants may be disciplined for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice while awaiting action on their applications.
E2. ENCLOSURE 2
REQUIRED INFORMATION TO BE SUPPLIED BY APPLICANTS FOR DISCHARGE OR NON-COMBATANT SERVICE
Each person seeking release from active service from the Armed Forces or assignment to noncombatant duties as a Conscientious Objector will provide the information indicated below as the minimum required for consideration of his or her request. This in no way bars the Military Departments from requiring additional information. The individual may submit additional information. (See Privacy Act statement in Enclosure 5.)
E2.1. General Information Concerning Applicant
E2.1.1. Full name.
E2.1.2. Social Security Number.
E2.1.3. Selective Service Number.
E2.1.4. Service address.
E2.1.5. Home of Record.
E2.1.6. Name and address of each school and college attended - (after age 16) together with the dates of attendance, and the type of school (e.g. public, religious organization, military, commercial, etc.).
E2.1.7. A chronological list of all occupations, positions, jobs, or types of work, other than as a student in school or college (after age 16) whether for monetary compensation or not. Include the type of work, name of employer, address of employer and the from/to date for each position or job held.
E2.1.8. All former addresses (after age 16) and dates of residence at those addresses.
E2.1.9. Parents' names and addresses. Indicate whether they are living or deceased.
E2.1.10. The religious denomination or tradition of both parents.
E2.1.11. Was application made to the Selective Service System (local board) for classification as a Conscientious Objector prior to entry into the Armed Forces? To which local board? What decision was made by the Board, if known?
E2.1.12. During conscription, when the applicant has served less than 180 days in the Military, a statement is required by the applicant as to whether he or she is willing to perform work under the Selective Service Alternative Service Program for Conscientious Objectors if the applicant is eventually discharged as a Conscientious Objector. Also required is a statement from the applicant as to whether he or she consents to the issuance of an order for such work by the local Selective Service Board.
E2.2. Training and/or Belief
E2.2.1. A description of the nature of the belief that requires the applicant to seek separation from military service or assignment to non-combatant training and duty for reasons of conscience.
E2.2.2. An explanation as to how the applicant's beliefs changed or developed, to include an explanation as to what factors (how, when, and from whom or from what source training was received and/or belief acquired) caused the change in or development of conscientious objection beliefs.
E2.2.3. An explanation as to when these beliefs became incompatible with military service or combatant duties, and why.
E2.2.4. 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.
E2.2.5. An explanation as to how the applicant's daily life style has changed as a result of the beliefs and what future actions the applicant plans to continue to support his or her stated beliefs.
E2.2.6. An explanation as to what in the applicant's opinion most conspicuously demonstrates the consistency and depth of the stated beliefs that gave rise to the applicant's claim.
E2.3. Participation in Organizations
E2.3.1. Information as to whether the applicant has ever been a member of any military organization or establishment before entering upon his or her present term of service. If so, the name and address of such organization will be given together with reasons why the applicant became a member.
E2.3.2. A statement as to whether the applicant is a member of a religious organization or tradition. If so, the statement will show the following:
E126.96.36.199. The name of the organization or tradition, and the name and location of its governing body or head, if known.
E188.8.131.52. When, where, and how the applicant became a member of said organization or tradition.
E184.108.40.206. The name and location of any religious organization, congregation, or meeting that the applicant customarily attends, and the extent of the applicant's active participation therein.
E220.127.116.11. The name, title, and present address of the pastor or leader of such religious organization, congregation, or meeting.
E18.104.22.168. A description of the creed or official statements, if any, and if they are known to the applicant, of said religious organization or tradition in relation to participation in war.
E2.3.3. A description of applicant's relationships with and activities in all organizations with which the applicant is or has been affiliated, other than military, political, or labor organizations.
E2.4. 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 desires to be considered by the authority reviewing the application. The burden is on the applicant to obtain and forward such information.