Conscientious Objector Discharge Part C continued

Chapter 3

3.1. General Procedures. Consistent with national policy, the Air Force will recognize members who qualify as bona fide conscientious objectors to the extent practicable and equitable. The Air Force does not recognize objection to a particular war as grounds for CO status.

  • 3.1.1. Individual facts and circumstances of each case will be the determining factor for discharging a member as a CO prior to completion of an obligated term of service. The Air Force makes CO classification or restricts military duties of COs only to the extent that such classifications do not compromise Air Force effectiveness and efficiency.
    • In accordance with DoDI 1300.06, Air Force members who had CO beliefs before entering military service are not eligible for CO status if one of the following circumstances apply: (T-1)
      • Such beliefs satisfied the requirements for CO classification pursuant to Section 6(j) of the Universal Military Training and Service Act, as amended (Title 50 U.S.C. App 456(j)) and other provisions of law at the time the member entered the service, and the member did not request CO classification by the Selective Service System (SSS) at that time.
      • The member requested CO classification before entering military service, the SSS denied the request, and the member’s request for classification as a CO is based on essentially the same grounds (or supported by essentially the same evidence) as the request that was denied by the SSS.
    • Air Force members who had CO beliefs before entering military service are eligible for CO status if both of the following circumstances apply: (T-1)
      • The beliefs crystallized after receipt of an induction notice.
      • The member could not request CO classification from the SSS because of SSS regulations prohibiting the submission of such requests after receipt of induction notice.
  • 3.1.2. Processing personnel must not use this instruction instead of other administrative separation instructions when the member has not been able to establish CO status but separation appears to be in the best interest of the Air Force.
  • 3.1.3. Process any person classified as a 1-A-O CO for administrative separation under Air Force instructions when the circumstances warrant it.
  • 3.1.4. When assigning or transferring persons classified 1-A-O by the SSS after induction, transfer 1-A-Os to a training center or station for recruit training and give them noncombatant training and service duties. These inductees sign and date a statement according to Attachment 3.

3.2. Personnel Effects of CO Status Applications.

  • 3.2.1. Members who request CO status under this instruction are subject to the following:
    • Enlisted Airmen awaiting promotion may enter withhold status (AFI 36-2502, Airmen Promotion/Demotion Programs).
    • Officers awaiting promotion to all grades may be subject to delay action (AFI 36-2501, Officer Promotion and Selective Continuation, Chapter 5) if circumstances suggest that an officer may not be suited for promotion and time is needed to develop more evidence on the question.

3.3. Status of Applicant Whose Request Is Under Consideration.

  • 3.3.1. Commanders during the application processing period and before a decision is made by the applicable authority make every effort to assign applicants to duties that will conflict as little as possible with their asserted beliefs. (T-1)
  • 3.3.2. Applicants will conform to the normal requirements of military service and satisfactorily perform their assigned duties. (T-1)
  • 3.3.3. To the extent practicable under the circumstances, during the period applications are being processed and until a decision is made, every effort will be made to assign applicants to duties that will conflict as little as possible with their asserted beliefs. Unless the Military Department concerned provides otherwise, an applicant shall be required to comply with active duty or transfer orders in effect at the time of his or her application or subsequently issued and received. During the period applications are being processed, applicants will be expected to conform to the normal requirement of military service and to perform such duties as are assigned. Applicants may be disciplined for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice while awaiting action on their applications.

3.4. Effect of Unauthorized Absence or Disciplinary/Administrative Action. Commanders:

  • 3.4.1. Do not stop processing applications, disciplinary action, or administrative separation actions because the applicant is absent without authorization.
  • 3.4.2. However, do not discharge an applicant whose request for CO classification has been approved until you resolve all disciplinary actions. (T-1)

3.5. Making Final Determination on Applications. Because of the personal and subjective nature of conscientious objection (the existence, honesty, and sincerity of asserted conscientious objection), commanders must not apply inflexible standards. Paragraph 5.1 lists final decision authorities.

3.6. Returning Applications Without Action. The commander may return the application without action if a member submits an application based on essentially the same grounds or supported by the same evidence as a previous application disapproved by SAFPC.

3.7. MPS Instructions. Before processing the application, MPS/Career Development Element must:

  • 3.7.1. Inform the applicant of the effects of being discharged as a CO as per specific provisions of Title 38, U.S.C., Section 5303. NOTE: Title 38, U.S.C., Section 5303 provides, in pertinent part, that the discharge of any person on the grounds that he or she was a CO who refused to perform military duty or refused to wear the uniform or otherwise to comply with lawful orders of competent military authority, shall bar all rights (except certain government insurance) of such persons under law administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs based on the period of service from which discharged (see Attachment 4). This includes all medical, educational, and disability claim for benefits and any other benefits normally granted for satisfactory military service. The only exception is in cases in which it is established, to the satisfaction of the Secretary of the Veterans Affairs, that the member is insane. When a member is separated pursuant to a CO status, The Department of Veterans Affairs will determine what veterans benefits, if any, a member is entitled to receive. (T-0)
  • 3.7.2. The applicant must complete the statements shown in Attachment 3 and Attachment 4 (if applicant is requesting discharge, 1-O) or Attachment 4 and Attachment 5 (if applicant is requesting noncombatant status, 1-A-O). The MPS must forward the statements with the application. (T-1)
  • 3.7.3. Screen the applicant’s personnel record. Review the applicant’s entire record to include all recent personnel actions taken by the applicant or on behalf of the applicant and provide this information to the investigating officer. Use all military personnel databases (e.g., Military Personnel Data System (MilPDS), Case Management System (CMS), Personnel Records Display Application (PRDA)) in the comprehensive review of the record. (T-1)
  • 3.7.4. Contact other sources (the unit of assignment, AFPC/DP3AM for officers of the medical services, base, installation or local chaplain corps for chaplains, AF/JA for judge advocates) for any information that may support or cast doubt on the applicant’s sincerity. These sources must promptly forward information for inclusion in the applicant’s file for consideration by the investigating officer. (T-1)
  • 3.7.5. Counsel applicant on the information in paragraph 3.1. (T-1)
  • 3.7.6. Schedule applicant for interviews with the chaplain and psychiatrist/psychologist. (T-1)
  • 3.7.7. Ensure commanders consider whether action under AFI 36-2502 (enlisted) or AFI 36-2501 (officer) is appropriate. (T-1)

3.8. Reports of Interview. If the applicant refuses to participate or is uncooperative or unresponsive in the course of either interview below, include this fact in the report.

  • 3.8.1. Chaplain Interview. The chaplain will ensure the applicant is made aware that the conversation is not privileged and will be used in an official report. The chaplain will submit a written opinion as to the nature and basis of the applicant’s sincerity and depth of conviction. (T-1)
    • The chaplain’s report must include the reasons for its conclusions.
    • The report must not make any recommendations for approval or disapproval of the application.
  • 3.8.2. Psychiatrist Interview. The psychiatrist will submit a written report of the psychiatric evaluation, including discussion of any psychiatric disorder that would warrant treatment or disposition through medical channels, or any personality disorder that would warrant appropriate administrative action. (T-1)
    • A psychologist may conduct this evaluation if a psychiatrist is not reasonably available.
    • The psychiatrist or psychologist will not make any recommendations for approval or disapproval of the application.

3.9. Furnishing Case File to Investigating Officer. MPS/Career Development Element includes in the case file the information developed in the screening (paragraph 3.7.3.), the chaplain’s report, and the psychiatric evaluation and provides the case file to the investigating officer (see Chapter 4).

3.10. Routing the Case File. Routing and review procedures for the applicant’s case file outlined below.

  • 3.10.1. The MPS/Career Development Element sends the case file to the local staff judge advocate (SJA) for review for procedural compliance within 15 calendar days after the date of the applicant’s request for a copy of the record or when the MPS receives the applicant’s rebuttal, whichever comes first. See paragraph 4.2.12 for the 15 days rule.
  • 3.10.2. If the local SJA acts as the investigating officer, the SJA of the next higher echelon in the chain of command of the applicant will provide the legal review. (T-2)
  • 3.10.3. SJA will return the case through the MPS to the investigating officer for further investigation if necessary.
  • 3.10.4. When the record is complete, the SJA will forward it to the commander who appointed the investigating officer.
  • 3.10.5. The appointing commander will forward the case, including recommended disposition and rationale for disposition, through channels to:
    • The MAJCOM or field operating agency (FOA) of assignment for members serving in the active military service.
    • AFRC/A1KK Workflow (, via email, for applicants assigned to the Air Force Reserve Unit Program (Cat A).
    • NGB/A1PP, Joint Base Andrews MD 20762 for ANG officers and airmen.
    • ARPC/DPA, 18420 E. Silver Creek Ave Bldg 390, Buckley CO 80011 for reserve officer and airmen assigned to IMA positions and the PIRR. (T-2)

3.11. MAJCOM and FOA Instructions (REGAF only). MAJCOM CC and JA are required to review and make a recommendation on all CO applications, this cannot be delegated to a lower level. After review for legal sufficiency, MAJCOM or FOA forward the original and one copy including recommendations and reasons, to AFPC/DP2STM, 550 C Street West, Ste 11, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph TX 78150-4713.

3.12. ARPC, AFRC, and ANG Instructions. After review for legal sufficiency, ARPC, AFRC, and ANG forward the original and one copy including recommendations and rationale, to the SAFPC for officers, and NGB/A1PP, AFRC/CV (Air Force Reserve Unit Program – Cat A) or ARPC/CV (Air Force Reserve IR Program – IMA and PIRR) who may approve enlisted airmen applications, but will forward all recommendations for disapproval to SAFPC. NOTE: Do not forward applications for officers not serving on active duty to AFPC/DP2STM unless the Air Force will order the officer to extended active duty (EAD) or will consider them for entry on EAD. (T-1)

3.13. Processing Time Goals. Process CO applications without delay, while observing the following :

  • 3.13.1. Protect applicant’s rights and ensure that the case is complete.
  • 3.13.2. The Air Force goal is for everyone in the application processing chain (through SAFPC), to move the package within 3 workdays, with the exception of the investigating officer who may take more than 3 but no more than 15 workdays.
  • 3.13.3. Keep in mind the applicant has 15 calendar days from the date of receipt of the investigating officer’s report for rebuttal (paragraph 4.2.12.).
  • 3.13.4. Failure to meet the suggested time standards does not invalidate the action.

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