NATICK, Mass. -- Two white papers are available to help members of the Chaplain Corps, as well as Army leaders, better understand how to provide religious support to the nation's Soldiers.
The papers are entitled "Transforming the Equipping of the Caretakers of Souls: A White Paper on Religious Support in Austere Operating Environments" and "Specialized Chaplain Corps Materiel for Identity-Driven Unit Ministry Teams: A White Paper on Religious Support in Austere Operating Environments."
Both papers were written by Chaplain (Major) Andrew Shriver, the Chaplain Corps Integrator, at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center, or CCDC SC.
The white papers discuss what types of portable gear might be helpful to chaplains in general, and to chaplains working under mobile and/or austere conditions specifically.
Shriver hopes that the papers will draw attention to the religious support needs of Soldiers because addressing these needs helps overall well-being and resiliency. He also wants to communicate the importance of Soldiers in all operating environments having access to a chaplain.
"Chaplains can provide the religious services and rituals that people really so desperately need, especially in expeditionary settings," said Shriver. "If people don't feel that they have the chance to talk to a chaplain in a confidential manner, whether it is religious or not, that can cause a decline in morale. Also, through the chaplain, underlying issues in the command can sometimes be discovered and addressed."
Shriver explained that it is also important to have someone present who can inform Soldiers about local religions and religious practices to help increase Soldiers' religious literacy in relation to their environment.
To provide these valuable services, it's important to have the in-person presence of a chaplain, especially in austere, remote, and mobile environments.
"In this day and age, it is important that chaplains are present physically," said Shriver. "It is key that chaplains can get out there."
Shriver pointed out that one of the most important tools that a chaplain can have in a remote environment is a protected, lightweight, rugged tablet, one that can stand up under tough circumstances.
"A tablet can include a great deal of critical information that members of the Chaplain Corps need to know, including all the Army regulations as well as field manuals," said Shriver. "It's too much information to memorize, and Chaplain Corps personnel need to be able to reference it to do their jobs effectively. This tablet enables them to have access to these materials even if they don't have the internet. The tablet can also include downloaded homilies, sermons, and other materials to help with their religious services. Having reams of papers is not going to be practical."
In addition to the tablet, Shriver wants members of the Chaplain Corps to consider a few other items such as the Improved MOLLE Medic Systems (to hold religious support gear in one bag that is designed to connect to the new MOLLE ruck), a rugged speaker, and a rugged solar generator to charge the tablet.
Shriver hopes the information provided in the white papers will increase awareness about the spiritual needs of Soldiers and the importance of them having both access to a chaplain and a concrete opportunity to practice their religion. Members of the Chaplain Corps need to consider how to provide care in a completely analog environment where electronics cannot be used at all.
"It's important for morale and also helps Soldier's remain resilient and ready," said Shriver.
About the CCDC Soldier Center: The CCDC Soldier Center is dedicated to using science and technology to ensure America's warfighters are optimized, protected, and lethal. CCDC SC supports all of the Army's Modernization efforts, with the Soldier Lethality and Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Teams being the CCDC SC's chief areas of focus. The center's science and engineering expertise are combined with collaborations with industry, DOD, and academia to advance Soldier and squad performance. The center supports the Army as it transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation to support a Multi-Domain Operations Capable Force of 2028 and a MDO Ready Force of 2035. CCDC SC is constantly working to strengthen Soldiers' performance to increase readiness and support for warfighters who are organized, trained, and equipped for prompt and sustainable ground combat.