Conscientious Objectors

By Army Public AffairsAugust 2, 2007

The Nation is at war and the vast, vast majority of our Soldiers serve honorably in and out of combat. Those very few Soldiers who are genuine conscientious objectors are either discharged or moved to a non-combatant position. Each Soldier's situation is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

The Army certainly accommodates genuine conscientious objectors, but it is important to remember that Soldiers serve in an all-volunteer Army because they chose to. New recruits sign a statement indicating they are not a "conscientious objector." Applicants to the Army who were previously conscientious objectors must sign an affidavit stating that they have abandoned their conscientious objector beliefs and principles and that they are willing to bear arms and give full and unqualified service to the United States.

Recent Trends

Calendar Year 2001 - 18 approved / 5 disapproved = 23 total (78% approved)

CY 2002 - 17 approved / 6 disapproved = 23 (74%)

CY 2003 - 31 approved / 29 disapproved = 60 (52%)

CY 2004 - 33 approved / 34 disapproved = 67 (49%)

CY 2005 - 39 approved / 35 disapproved = 74 (52%)

CY 2006 -38 approved / 15 disapproved = 53 (72%)

CY 2007 -13 approved / 12 disapproved = 25 (52%) (as of 31 July 2007)

The number of Soldiers applying to be classified as conscientious objectors remains small, about 0.01% of the force of, as of September 30, 2005 (active duty strength: 492,728).


Army Regulation 600-43, Conscientious Objection, dated 21 August 2006, defines conscientious objection as a firm, fixed and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or the bearing of arms, because of religious training and belief. The Army Regulation recognizes two types of "conscientious objector" status: 1-0 and 1-A-0.

A Soldier may submit a 1-0 conscientious objector application when the Soldier is sincerely opposed, because of religious or deeply held moral or ethical (not political, philosophical or sociological) beliefs to participating in war in any form. This is an application to be released from the Army and can only be approved/denied by the Department of the Army.

A Soldier may submit a 1-A-0 conscientious objector application when the Soldier is sincerely opposed because of religious or deeply held moral or ethical (not political, philosophical or sociological) beliefs to participating as a combatant (including training in tactics or weapons) in war in any form. This is an application to be assigned to non-combatant duties. The Soldier's General Court Martial Convening Authority can approve this application; however, only HQDA can deny it.

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.

Claims based on conscientious objection growing out of experiences before entering military service, which did not become fixed until after the person's entry into the service, will be considered. However, requests by personnel for qualification as a conscientious objector after entering military service will not be favorably considered when these requests are:

o Based solely upon policy, pragmatism, or expediency.

o Based upon insincerity.

o Based on objection to a certain war. Applicants who are otherwise eligible for conscientious objector status may not be denied that status simply because of their views on the nation's domestic or foreign policies.

The Department of the Army Conscientious Objector Review Board (CORB) is composed of 3 officers; a chaplain from the Office of the Chief, Army Chaplains; a lawyer from the Office of the Army Judge Advocate General; and the third member is a line officer from the Army Special Review Board, which falls under the Army G-1 (Personnel). The appropriate offices (OTJAG, Chief of Chaplain, and SRB) identify their respective board member.

Each board member adjudicates the application packet based on their experience and interpretation of the guidance, definitions and standards specified in Army Regulation 600-43 (Conscientious Objection). Each member independently reviews the application package and votes for either approval or disapproval. A majority decision by the CORB is the final determination for that application.

Applicants are not permitted to appear before the CORB. The CORB member adjudicates the application based upon the evidence presented in the application.

A conscientious objector application that has been considered and disapproved by the CORB can not be reconsidered. An applicant may submit later formal applications, however, they will only be considered if they are not based upon substantially the same grounds or not supported by substantially the same evidence as previously disapproved.