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AR 600-43 Conscientious Objection (21 August 2006)

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

Chapter 1

1-5. Policy

a. Personnel who qualify as conscientious objectors under this regulation will be classified as such, consistent with the effectiveness and efficiency of the Army. However, requests by personnel for qualification as a conscientious objector after entering military service will not be favorably considered when these requests are

(1) Based on a claim of conscientious objection that existed and satisfied the requirements for classification as a conscientious objector according to section 6(j) of the Military Selective Service Act, as amended (50 USC, App 456(j)), and other provisions of law when such a claim was not presented before dispatch of the notice of induction, enlistment, or appointment. Claims based on conscientious objection growing out of experiences before entering military service, however, which did not become fixed until after the persons entry into the service, will be considered.

(2) Based solely on conscientious objection claimed and denied on their merits by the Selective Service System before induction when application under this regulation is based on substantially the same grounds, or supported by substantially the same evidence, as the request that was denied under the Selective Service System. ...

(3) Based solely upon policy, pragmatism, or expediency. Applicants who are otherwise eligible for conscientious objector status may not be denied that status simply because of their views on the nations domestic or foreign policies.

(4) Based on objection to a certain war.

(5) Based upon insincerity.

(a) The most important consideration is not whether applicants are sincere in wanting to be designated as a conscientious objector, but whether their asserted convictions are sincerely held. Sincerity is determined by an impartial evaluation of each persons thinking and living in totality, past and present. The conduct of persons, in particular their outward manifestation of the beliefs asserted, will be carefully examined and given substantial weight in evaluating their application.

(b) Relevant factors that should be considered in determining a persons claim of conscientious objection include training in the home and church; 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 persons supporting the claim.

(c) Applicants may have sought release from the Army through several means simultaneously, or in rapid succession (medical or hardship discharge, and so forth). They may have some major commitments during the time their beliefs were developing that are inconsistent with their claim. They may have applied for conscientious objector status shortly after becoming aware of the prospect of undesirable or hazardous duty or having been rejected for a special program. The timing of their application alone, however, is never enough to furnish a basis in fact to support a disapproval. These examples serve merely as indicators that further inquiry as to the persons sincerity is warranted. Recommendations for disapproval should be supported by additional evidence beyond these indicators.

b. Care must be exercised not to deny the existence of beliefs simply because those beliefs are incompatible with ones own. Church membership or adherence to certain theological tenets are not required to warrant separation or assignment to noncombatant training and service. Mere affiliation with a church or other group that advocates conscientious objection as a tenet of its creed does not necessarily determine a persons position or belief. Conversely, affiliation with a church group that does not teach conscientious objection does not necessarily rule out adherence to conscientious objection beliefs. Applicants may be or may have been a member of a church, religious organization, or religious sect; and the claim of conscientious objection may be related to such membership. If so, inquiry may be made as to their membership, the teaching of their church, religious organization or sect, as well as their religious activity. However, the fact that these persons may disagree with, or not subscribe to, some of the tenets of their church does not necessarily discredit their claim. The personal convictions of each person will dominate so long as they derive from the persons moral, ethical, or religious beliefs. The task is to decide whether the beliefs professed are sincerely held and whether they govern the claimant's actions in word and deed.

c. The burden of establishing a claim of conscientious objection as grounds for separation or assignment to noncombatant training and service is on the applicant. To this end, applicants must establish, by clear and convincing evidence, that the nature or basis of the claim comes within the definition of criteria prescribed in this regulation for conscientious objection and that their beliefs are sincere. Applicants have the burden of determining and setting forth the exact nature of the request; that is, whether they request separation based on conscientious objection (1-0) or reassignment to noncombatant training and service based on conscientious objection (1-A-0).

d. An applicant claiming (1-0) status will not be granted (1-A-0) status as a compromise. Similarly, discharge will not be recommended for those who apply for classification as a noncombatant.


Chapter 2
Applying for Conscientious Objector Status

2-1. Application

a. Military personnel who seek either discharge or assignment to noncombatant duties because of conscientious objection will submit an application on DA Form 4187 (Personnel Action) to their immediate commanding officer. Personnel will indicate whether they are seeking discharge or assignment to noncombatant duties. Applications must also include all of the personal information required by appendix B, and any other information personnel desire to submit. ...
2-3. Interviewing applicants

a. The interviewing chaplain may be from any component of the Armed Forces but not assigned to an Active or Inactive Control Group.

(1) Before interviewing applicants, the chaplain will advise them that any communication between the applicant and the chaplain will not be privileged since a detailed report of the interview will become a part of the application for consideration in the adjudication process. Thus, if the applicant has established a relationship of confidentiality (counseling) with a chaplain, a different chaplain will conduct the interview. This provision does not prevent an applicant from soliciting a letter to support the claim from anyone he or she chooses.

(2) The interviewing chaplain will submit a detailed report of the interview to the commander. This report will include comments on the following:

(a) Nature and basis of the persons claim.

(b) Opinion on the source of the beliefs.

(c) Sincerity and depth or lack of conviction.

(d) Appropriate comments of the persons demeanor and lifestyle as they bear on the claim.

(e) Specific reasons for the chaplains conclusions.

(f) If it is felt that the applicant is insincere in his or her beliefs or his or her lifestyle is incongruent with the claim, statements to this effect should be documented in this report.

(g) If the applicant refuses to be interviewed by a chaplain, the chaplain will submit a report explaining the circumstances. Appropriate comments on the applicant's demeanor as it bears on the claim will be included.

(h) No recommendation for approval or disapproval of the application will be made by the chaplain.

b. The applicant will also be interviewed by a psychiatrist (or other medical officer if a psychiatrist is not available) who may be from any component of the Armed Forces. The psychiatrist will submit a mental status examination report indicating the presence or absence of any psychiatric disorder that would warrant treatment or disposition through medical channels, or such a personality disorder as to warrant recommendation for appropriate administrative action. No information obtained from the applicant, during the evaluation, or any matter derived from the evaluation, will be made available outside medical channels except as needed for processing the person for further mental evaluation or discharge for medical reasons. ...
2-5. Conducting investigations

a. The investigating officer will conduct a hearing on the application. The person will be notified in writing as to the time and place the hearing will be held. The persons receipt of the notice should be acknowledged by his or her signature and the date of the receipt on the letter of notification. A copy of the notification will be attached to the hearing record.

b. The hearing may be delayed for good cause at the persons request. However, if the person fails to appear at the stated time and place for the hearing, the person will be deemed to have waived his or her appearance and the investigating officer may proceed in the persons absence. If the person fails to appear through no fault of his or her own, the hearing will be rescheduled.

c. The person may not wish a hearing on his or her application. If so, the person may waive his or her right to a hearing by executing a statement to the effect at figure 2-4.

d. The execution of a waiver of a hearing does not waive the requirement for an investigating officer. Regardless of the desires of the person, an investigating officer will be appointed to comply with the requirements described in this regulation.

e. The purpose of the hearing is to

(1) Give the person an opportunity to present any evidence he or she desires to support the application.

(2) Enable the investigating officer to ascertain and assemble all relevant facts.

(3) Create a comprehensive record that aids the investigating officer and other decisionmakers in arriving at informed recommendations.

f. At the beginning of the hearing, the investigating officer will require the person to acknowledge his or her understanding of the nature of the hearing, as stated in figure 2-5, by signing and dating the same.

g. The hearing will be informal. It will not be governed by the rules of evidence employed by a courtmartial, except that all oral testimony presented will be under oath or affirmation. Any failure or refusal by the person to submit to questioning under oath or affirmation before the investigating officer may be considered in the recommendation and evaluation of the persons claim. Any relevant evidence may be received. However, statements obtained from persons not present at the hearing need not be notarized or sworn. The use of DA Form 1574 (Report of Proceedings by Investigating Officer/Board of Officers) in the conduct of the hearing is not recommended. The hearing is not an adversary proceeding.

h. The applicant may submit any additional evidence desired, including sworn and unsworn statements. He or she may also present any witnesses, but must secure their attendance. The installation or local commander will render all reasonable assistance in making available military members of the 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. A chaplain may feel that his or her appearance might lead to a violation of AR 165-1. If so, the investigating officer will not require a chaplain, other than the interviewing chaplain (para 2-3a), to appear at a hearing.

i. If the applicant desires, he or she is entitled to be represented by counsel at no expense to the Government. The counsel will be allowed to attend and participate in all hearings and to assist the applicant in presentation of the case. The counsel will also be allowed to examine all items in the case file.
2-10. Use, assignment, and training

a. Except as provided in b, below, persons who have submitted applications (see para 2-1) will be retained in their unit and assigned duties providing minimum practicable conflict with their asserted beliefs, pending a final decision on their applications. Reassignment orders received after the submission of an application will be delayed until the approval authority makes a final determination. In the case of trainees, they will not be required to train in the study, use, or handling of arms or weapons. The trainee is not precluded from taking part in those aspects of training that do not involve the bearing or use of arms, weapons, or munitions. Except for this restriction, conscientious objector applicants are subject to all military orders and discipline, and regulations to include those on training.

b. In the case of second and later applications, the duty limitations of a, above, will not apply if the applicants immediate commander determines that the application is substantially the same as a previously disapproved application. ...

c. Guidelines for Soldiers submitting an application for conscientious objection is as follows:

(1) A Soldier assigned or attached to a unit deploying to a new duty station (new duty location is the final destination of the deploying unit) may submit an application for conscientious objector status. The Soldier's submission of a conscientious objector application will not preclude the Soldier from deploying with his or her unit. The unit will process the application as operational mission requirements permit. The Soldier will prepare for deployment and deploy with the unit unless the application for conscientious objector status has been approved by the approving authority designated in paragraph 2-8a. In cases where a Soldier's application has been forwarded to the DACORB, the commander exercising general courtmartial convening authority over the Soldier may, in his discretion, excuse the Soldier from deployment, pending decision of the DACORB.

Comments: "DACORB" is the Department of the Army Conscientious Objector Review Board.

(2) A Soldier who received individual orders for reassignment prior to submission of conscientious objector application or a Soldier who has departed his or her unit of assignment in compliance with individual reassignment orders may not apply for conscientious objector status until he or she arrives at the new permanent duty station. The foregoing does not apply to Soldiers who are on temporary duty en route on assignment orders for a period in excess of 8 weeks. These Soldiers may apply at their temporary duty location.

d. When a request for conscientious objector status has been denied, the person

(1) Will comply with reassignment orders, and

(2) May be assigned to any duties, or

(3) May be required to participate in any type of training.

e. In the case of Reserve Component personnel not on active duty, the submission of an application after the date the applicant's orders are published, announcing a reporting date for active duty or ADT is not a basis for delay in reporting for designated duty. If a person is ordered to report to active duty or ADT while an application is being processed and he or she is advised that final action cannot be made before the reporting date for duty, he or she must comply with these orders. In such instance, the application will be forwarded to the proper Active Army GCMCA for processing.

f. Individual Ready Reserve members who have been ordered to active duty may submit an application for conscientious objector status at their mobilization site. Submission of an application will not preclude further assignment or deployment. Upon departure from the mobilization site, the Soldier will handcarry the application packet if it has not been forwarded to the DACORB. If application has been forwarded to the DACORB, the Soldier's forwarding address (if known) will be included.
Appendix B
Personal Information that Must be Included in Application


In accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 USC 552a), as implemented by AR 340-21, applicants will be advised as outlined in paragraph 2-2a. The Privacy Act form will be signed and become part of the record (fig 2-2). Also, the following will be provided:

a. General information.

(1) Full name.

(2) Social security number.

(3) Selective Service number (if applicable).

(4) Service address and component (Regular Army (RA), USAR, ARNG).

(5) Permanent home address.

(6) Name and address of each school and college attended together with dates of attendance, and the type of school (public, church, military, commercial, and so forth).

(7) A chronological list of all occupations, positions, jobs, or types of work, other than as a student 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.

(8) All former addresses and dates of residence at those addresses.

(9) Parent's names and addresses. Indicate whether they are living or deceased.

(10) The religious denomination or sect of both parents.

(11) Was application made to the Selective Service System (local board) for classification as a conscientious objector before entry into the Armed Forces? If so, to which local board? What decision, if any, that was made by the board, if known?

(12) Was any previous application made in service for classification as a conscientious objector? If so, for which status (1-0 or 1-A-O)? Where and when was application made? What was the final determination? Attach a copy of the previous application(s), if any.

(13) When the person has served less than 180 days in the Armed Forces, a statement by him or her as to whether he or she is willing to perform work under the Selective Service civilian work program for conscientious objectors if discharged as a conscientious objector. Also, a statement of the applicant as to whether he or she consents to the issuance of an order for such work by his or her local Selective Service board.

b. Training and belief.

(1) An express, specific statement as to whether the person requests classification as a conscientious objector (1-0), or as a conscientious objector (1-A-0).

(2) A description of the nature of the belief that requires the person to seek separation from the military service or assignment to noncombatant training and duty for reasons of conscience.

(3) An explanation as to how his or her beliefs changed or developed, to include an explanation as to what factors (how, when, and from whom or from what source training received and belief acquired) caused the change in or development of conscientious objection beliefs.

(4) An explanation as to when these beliefs become incompatible with military service and why.

(5) An explanation as to the circumstances, if any, under which the person believes in the use of force, and to what extent, under any foreseeable circumstances.

(6) An explanation as to what in the persons life most conspicuously demonstrates the consistency and depth of his or her beliefs that have rise to his or her claim.

(7) An explanation as to how the applicant's daily lifestyle has changed as a result of his or her beliefs and what future actions he or she plans to continue to support his or her beliefs.

c. Participation in organizations.

(1) Information as to whether the person 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 he or she became a member.

(2) A statement as to whether the person is a member of a religious sect or organization. If so, the statement will show

(a) The name of the sect, and the name and location of its governing body or head, if known.

(b) When, where, and how the applicant became a member of the sect or organization.

(c) The name and location of any church, congregation, or meeting that the applicant customarily attends; the extent of the applicant's participation in the church group or meeting.

(d) The name, title, and present address of the pastor or leader of such church, congregation, or meeting.

(e) A description of the creed or official statements, if any, of said religious sector organization in relation to the applicant's participation in war and if the creed or statements are known to him.

(3) A description of the applicant's relationships with and activities in all organizations with which he or she is or has been affiliated, other than military, political, or labor organizations.

d. References. Any more information that the person desires to be considered by the authority reviewing his or her application. Letters of reference or official statements of organizations to which the applicant belongs or refers in his or her application are included. The burden is on the applicant to obtain and forward such information.


Each person seeking a discharge from the Army (1-0), or assignment to noncombatant duties (1-A-0), as a conscientious objector under this regulation, will provide the information indicated above as the minimum required for consideration of his or her request. However, HQDA may require such additional information as it deems proper. The person may submit such other information as desired.