Religious Dimensions of the Targeting Process

U.S. military doctrine extends to religious aspects of combat operations and the role of chaplains as spiritual advisers. A new update to that doctrine “clarifies the chaplain’s advisement role in the targeting process to ensure the focus is on the ethical, moral, and religious dimensions.”

As noncombatants and “ministers of religion,” chaplains have protected status under the laws of war.

Accordingly, “chaplains must not engage directly or indirectly in combatant duties; will not conduct activities that compromise their noncombatant status; must not function as intelligence collectors or propose combat target selection; and will not advise on including or excluding specific structures on the no-strike list or target list. Advisement will focus on the ethical, moral, and religious dimensions of the targeting process.”

See Religious Affairs in Joint Operations, Joint Publication 1-05, Joint Chiefs of Staff, November 20, 2013.

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