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Law of War

Identify what actions are legal and what actions are illegal as they relate to the treatment of captured personnel

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Terminal Learning Objective

Action: Identify what actions are legal and

what actions are illegal as they relate to the

treatment of captured personnel.

Condition: Given FM 27-10, Quick Reference

to Geneva Convention, and the student


Standards: IAW FM 27-10 to within 70%



Sources of Law

Initial Handling Captured Personnel

Treatment of Captured Personnel

Status of Captured Personnel

Preventing War Crimes

Sources of Law

Customary Laws, 1625 Book

International Treaties

Hague Conventions, 1907

Geneva Conventions, 1949

FM 27-10, Law of Land Warfare

Rules of Engagement


Initial Handling of
Captured Personnel

Handling of Surrendering Personnel?

The 5 S’s

Search, Silence, Segregate Safeguard, & Speed to the Rear

Evacuation of Captives (GPW, Art. 19; FM 27-10, para. 95)

Timely Evacuation, ASAP

Delayed Evacuation

Protection / Humane Treatment

POW Camps (GPW, Art. 23; FM 27-10, para. 99)

Security of POWs

Markings of POW Camps

Notification of Location of POW Camps

Humane Treatment
(GPW, Art. 13, 20, 27; FM 27-10, para. 88 – 96, 266)

Everyone is Entitled

No Degrading or Humiliating Treatment

Protected From Violence & Intimidation

Shielded From Insults & Public Curiosity

Given Respect for Their Persons & Honors

No Reprisals Allowed

Torture and Coercion
(GPS, Art. 13,; GPW, Art. 13, 17; GC, Art. 31, 32;
FM 24-10, para. 93; FM 34-52, p. 1-8)

POWs “may NOT be threatened, insulted, or exposed to disadvantageous treatment of ANY kind.”


“The infliction of intense pain to body or mind to extract a confession or information, or for sadistic pleasure.” “Free Will”


“Actions designed to unlawfully induce another to commit an act against one’s will.”

Physical Torture
(FM 34-52, p. 1-8)

Electric Shock

Pain Through Chemicals

Pain Through Bondage

Legitimate Use of Restraints to Prevent Escapes

Forced to Stand, Sit, or Kneel in Abnormal Positions for Prolonged Periods of Time

Food Deprivation

Any Form of Beating

Mental Torture
(FM 34-52, p. 1-8)

Mock Executions

Abnormal Sleep Deprivations

Chemically Induced Psychosis

(FM 34-52, p. 1-8)

Threatening or Implying Physical or Mental Torture to the Subject, His Family, or Others to Whom He Owes Loyalty.

Intentionally Denying Medical Assistance or Care in Exchange for Information Sought or Other Cooperation.

Threatening or Implying that Other Rights Guaranteed by the Geneva Conventions Will NOT be Provided Unless Cooperation is Forthcoming.

Equal Treatment
(GPW, Art. 16; FM 27-10, para 92)

Required Regardless of Race, Religious Beliefs, Nationality, Political Opinions, or Other Distinctions Based on Similar Criteria.

May Be Segregated in Order to Maintain Order in the Camp, to Impose Punishment, for Medical Reasons or Protection.

Women must have separate facilities and be treated as favorably as men.


Status of Captured Personnel

Retained Personnel

Protected Personnel

Prisoners of War (POWs)

Retained Personnel Status
(GPW, Art. 33; FM 27-10, para. 67, 68)

Medical Personnel (GPS, Art. 24; FM 27-10, para. 67, 68)

Must Provide Medical Support Exclusively

Includes Admin. Staff at Medical Unit

NOT Medics, Combat Lifesavers, etc. (GPS, Art. 25, 29; FM 27-10, para. 68)

Religious Personnel (GPS, Art. 24; FM 27-10, para. 112)

Chaplains (GPS, Art. 24)

NOT “NON-Chaplain” Ministers of Religion (GPS, Art. 36)

Volunteer Aid Society Workers (GPS, Art. 26; FM 27-10, para. 69)

Retained Personnel Rights
(FM 27-10, para. 67 – 69, 230 – 232)

MUST Receive AT LEAST Same Benefits as POWs

May ONLY Be Required to Perform Religious or Medical Duties

May ONLY Be Retained as long as Required by Health & Spiritual Needs of POWs

MUST Be Returned to Home Country When No Longer Needed

Protected Persons Status
(GC, Art. 4, 5; FM 27-10, para. 247, 248)

Includes Civilian NON-Combatants & Unlawful Combatants in the Hands of a “Foreign Party” to the Conflict or Occupying Power.

All Persons Who do NOT Qualify for POW Status who have Engaged in Hostile or Belligerent Conduct.

If Unsure About a Captive’s Status?

Treat captive as a POW until Article 5 Tribunal determines otherwise. (GPW, Art. 5; FM 27-10, para. 71)

Protected Persons’ Rights (cont.)
(FM 27-10, para. 266, 267, 270 – 273)

Humane Treatment (GPW, Art. 13, 20, 27; FM 27-10, para. 88 – 96, 266)

Equal Treatment (GPW, Art. 16; FM 27-10, para. 92)

Protect Women From Attacks on Their Honor. (Includes Protection From Rape, Forced Prostitution, & Indecent Assault)

Protected Persons’ Rights (cont.)
(FM 27-10, para. 266, 267, 270 – 273)

Protection From:

Being Taken Hostage.

Being Used as Human Shields to Render Certain Areas Immune From Military Operations.

Physical or Moral Coercion.

Murder, Torture, Corporal Punishment, Mutilation, Medical Experiments, & ANY Other Forms of Brutality.

Collective Penalties, Pillage, Reprisals, Intimidation, & Terrorism

Limitations on Protected Persons’ Rights
(FM 27-10, para. 266, 267, 270 – 273)

Limited Rights to Leave

No Immunity From Prosecution

Can Be Screened & Identified for Intelligence Purposes


Prisoner of War Initial Handling

Identification Information (GPW. Art. 17; FM 27-10, para. 93)

Required Information?

Name, Rank, Service Number, DOB

w/o Liable for Restriction of Privileges

Identification Cards

Do NOT question?

Physically and/or Mentally Incapacitated (FM 27-10, para. 93)

MUST be Cleared by Competent Medical Personnel

Question POW in Language He Understands (FM 27-10, para. 93)

POW Categories
(FM 27-10, para. 136)

Category I – Below Sergeant

Category II – All NCOs

Category III – Warrant and Commissioned Officers below Major (Company Grade Officers)

Category IV – Major through Colonel (Field Grade Officers)

Category V – General Officers

Armed Forces NOT Recognized by a Detaining Power

Civilians With an Armed Force (ID Card)

Merchant Marine/Civil Aircraft Crew Members (Min.)

Levee en Masse (GPW, Art. 4; FM 27-10, para. 61, 65)

Armed Forces (Present & Past) of Occupied Country

Lawful Combatants in the Hands of a Neutral Party

NON-POW Status

Armed forces members who deliberately conceal themselves to pass behind enemy lines to gain military information or to wage war?

Disguise, Retained Person Status

To Be Disguised as an Enemy Soldier & Shoot at Enemy Targets is ILLEGAL.

Article 5 Tribunal (GPW, Art. 5; FM 27-10, para. 71)

Used to Determine Status

NON-POW Status (cont.)

Spies (HR, Art. 29; FM 27-10, para. 75)

Hague Convention (Annex IV)


False Pretense

Intention of Communicate

UCMJ, Article 106

w/i U.S. Control / Jurisdiction

POW Rights

POWs MAY NOT Renounce Rights or Status (GPW, Art. 7; FM 27-10, para. 87)

Protection / Humane Treatment (GPW, Art. 13, 20, 27; FM 27-10. para. 88 – 96, 266)

Special Considerations for Women

Minimally as Equal Treatment to Men (GPW, Art. 14; FM 27-10. para. 90)

Separate Dormitories (GPW, Art. 25)

Separate Latrines & Bathing Facilities (GPW, Art. 29)

Other POW Rights

Respect & Honor (GPW, Art. 14; FM 27-10. para. 90)

Property (GPW, Art. 18; FM 27-10, para. 94)

Quarters (GPW, Art. 25; FM 27-10, para. 101)

Rations (GPW, Art. 26; FM 27-10, para. 102)

Clothing (GPW, Art. 27; FM 27-10, para. 103)

Hygiene, Sanitation, and Medical Attention (GPW, Art. 15, 29, 30; FM 27-10, para. 91,106 – 108)

Human Evacuation (GPW, Art. 20; FM 27-10, para. 96)

Protective Equipment (GPW, Art. 18; FM 27-10, para. 94)

Killing of Prisoners (FM 27-10, para. 85)

Other POW Rights (cont.)

Religion & Faith (FM 27-10, para. 110 – 113)

Sending & Receiving Mail (GPW, Art. 71, FM 27-10, para. 147, 150, & 152)

2 Letters & 4 Postcards Monthly (Minimum)

Postage Free

Relief Packages (GPW, Art. 72; FM 27-10, para. 148 – 149)

Identity Documents (FM 27-10, para. 148)

Educational, Religious, or Recreational Materials (FM 27-10, para. 112 – 114)

Access to Prisoner Representative (FM 27-10, para. 154 – 157)


POW Responsibilities

Must Follow ALL Camp Rules (FM 27-10, para. 117)

Rules MUST BE Posted in Camp (In POW’s language)

Each POW MUST BE Given a Copy of Rules (In POW’s language)

POWs are Subject to the Same Laws, Regulations, Orders, & Penalties as Detaining Power’s Forces (FM 27-10, para. 158, 163)

Detailed Punishments (FM 27-10, para. 158 – 184)

POW Labor
(GPW, Art. 50; FM 27-10, para. 125 -129)

May Utilize Physically Fit POWs for Labor (MUST take into account Age, Sex, Rank, & Physical Aptitude)


May NOT be required to work


May ONLY Be Required to Supervise


May Be Required to Work

POW Labor Duration (GPW, Art. 53; FM 27-10, para. 129)

General, NOT Excessive

Lunch Hour

Day of Rest

8 Days Annual Vacation

POW Working Conditions
(FM 27-10, para. 125 – 144)

May NOT use POW Labor to Support Detaining Power’s War Effort

MUST include Suitable Accommodations, Food, Clothing, and Equipment.

May NOT be Inferior to Working Conditions of Detaining Power’s Nationals Performing the Same Work.

No Dangerous or Humiliating Labor.

POW Wages

Pay for Labor (GPW, Art. 62; FM 27-10, para. 138)

1/4 of One Swiss Franc per Full Work Day

Mar “2000” = $0.15

Monthly Advance (GPW, Art. 60; FM 27-10, para. 136)

Category I – Below Sergeant = 8 Swiss Francs

Category II – All NCOs = 12 Swiss Francs

Category III – Warrant & Commissioned Officers below Major (Company Grade Officers) = 50 Swiss Francs

Category IV – Major through Colonel (Field Grade Officers) = 60 Swiss Francs

Category V – General Officers = 75 Swiss Francs


Successful Escape (GPW, 91)

Rejoins His or Ally’s Forces

Leaves Detaining Power’s or Detaining Power’s Ally’s Territory

Entering Neutral County?

Still Held as POW by Neutral Country

Unsuccessful Escape (GPW, 92 – 94; FM 27-10, para. 169)

Disciplinary Punishment for Escape

Judicial Punishment for Violence to Life or Limb or Unjust Enrichment

Preventing Escape

MUST Use Least Extreme Means

Yelling Halt


Use of Weapons (FM 27-10, para. 118)

Considered to be an Extreme Measure

MUST Warn Before Using Weapons

Aim to Disable and NOT to Kill

Aiders and Abettors receive only disciplinary punishment for helping

Preventing War Crimes

War Crimes

ANY Violation of the Law of War Committed by ANY Person During an Armed Conflict (GC, Art. 146; GPW, Art. 129; GPS, Art. 49; FM 27-10, para. 498, 499)

Two Types of War Crimes

Grave Breaches? (GC, Art. 147; GPW, Art. 130; GPS, Art. 50; FM 27-10, para. 502)

Includes Torture, Willfully Depriving a Person of a Trial

Simple Breaches? (FM 27-10, para. 504)

Includes Forcing a POW to Perform Prohibited Labor

Nation’s Obligation to Suppress War Crimes
(GPS, Art. 49; GPW, Art. 129, GC, Art. 146; FM 27-10, para. 506, 507)

All Nations MUST Suppress War Crimes

Obligation Facilitated by:

Universal Jurisdiction Over All War Criminals

No Statute of Limitations on War Crimes

Grave Breaches – MUST Prosecute or Extradite to a Country Who Will Prosecute

Simple Breaches – MUST Take Steps to Prevent Recurrence

Commanders’ Duties & Responsibilities

CDRs Can Be Criminally Liable for War Crimes If They:

Ordered the War Crime,

Knew About the War Crime BUT Did Nothing to Stop it, or

The CDR Should Have Known of the Crime and Did NOT Act to Stop it.

Commanders Also Have a Duty to Investigate War Crimes Promptly

Soldier’s Duties and Responsibilities

Watch for Evidence of Prior Abuse

Document & Report any Suspicions of Prior Abuse

You MUST Report Violations & Suspected Violations of Laws of War as Serious Incidents.

Responsible for Own Acts or Omissions which Violate Law of War

Must NOT Obey Unlawful Orders

If Soldier Receives Unlawful Order, Soldier Should Try to Prevent the Order From Being Carried Out

Dealing With Illegal Orders

Clarify Unclear Orders

If the Order is Illegal, The Soldier MUST State So

Use Moral Arguments

Threaten to Report the Act

Ask the Senior Soldier to Stop the Act

Refuse to Obey the Order

If the Order is NOT Withdrawn, or the Act IS Committed, Report Incident or Order

Duty to Report War Crimes

MUST Report All Observed & Suspected War Crimes as Serious Incidents (AR 190-40)

Report to Chain of Command

Chain of Command is Implicated?

Report to JAG, IG, Chaplain, or Provost Marshal

Reasons for Reporting
War Crimes

Enemy War Crimes Can Be the Basis for Legitimate Reprisals.

Publishing Enemy War Crimes Can Be Used to Influence Public Opinion, Including Soldier’s, Against the Enemy.

Reporting Allied War Crimes Helps us follow Geneva Convention Rules on Transferring Captives

HUMINT Collectors Must NOT:

Impersonate Chaplains, Medical Personnel, or Volunteer Aid Society Personnel (e.g., Red Cross Personnel)

Interrogate an injured or ill POW UNTIL Receiving a Medical Release Specifically for Questioning

Delay Evacuation of a POW in a Danger Zone for the Purposes of Interrogation

HUMINT Collectors MUST:

Report Suspected War Crimes Encountered during the Course of Their Duties

Conduct Yourself in a Professional Manner When Dealing with POWs, Taking into Consideration the Rank & Status of the POW

Ensure Your Security & That of the POW



Sources of Law.

Captured Personnel Initial Handling.

Define POWs, Retained Personnel, & Protected Persons.

Treatment of POWs.

Treatment of Retained Personnel.

Treatment of Protected Persons.

Preventing War Crimes.

Law of War

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