Conscientious Objection Second part of Part C

Chapter 4

4.1. Appointing Investigating Officer. Commanders, shown below, appoint a judge advocate serving in the active military service (Regular Air Force, or members of the Reserve Component on active duty or full time National Guard duty), in the grade of captain or higher, to investigate the applicant’s claim. If the applicant is a commissioned officer, the investigating officer must be senior in grade. The letter appointing the investigating officer becomes a part of the case file. (T-1)

  • 4.1.1. Active Duty (AD) Members. The commander exercising special court martial jurisdiction over the applicant appoints the investigating officer.
  • 4.1.2. USAFR Non-EAD Members. The commander exercising special court-martial jurisdiction over the installation processing the application appoints the investigating officer.
  • 4.1.3. Air National Guard (ANG) Non-EAD Members. The ANG wing or group commander exercising control over the ANG/MPS that is responsible for processing the application appoints the investigating officer.

4.2. Investigating Officer Actions : (T-1)

  • 4.2.1. The investigating officer reviews this instruction.
  • 4.2.2. The investigating officer then expeditiously investigates and conducts a hearing, the purpose of which is to:
    • Give the applicant an opportunity to present any desired evidence in support of the application.
    • Enable the investigating officer to gather all relevant facts.
    • Create a comprehensive record.
    • Facilitate an informed recommendation by the investigating officer and an informed decision on the merits of the claim by higher authority.
  • 4.2.3. The investigating officer making a recommendation may consider the applicant’s failure or refusal to submit to questioning under oath or affirmation when evaluating the applicant’s claim.
  • 4.2.4. The investigating officer will proceed in the applicant’s absence if the applicant fails to appear at the hearing without good cause and the applicant is deemed to have waived an appearance.
  • 4.2.5. Applicant is entitled to be represented by legal counsel at applicant’s own expense. Legal counsel shall be permitted to be present at the hearing, assist the applicant in the presentation of the case, and examine all items in the file.
  • 4.2.6. The hearing is informal and not governed by the courts-martial rules of evidence except that all oral testimony presented must be under oath or affirmation.
    • The hearing may receive any relevant evidence.
    • Statements obtained from persons not present at the hearing need not be made under oath or affirmation.
    • The hearing is not an adversarial proceeding.
    • The investigating officer should make every effort to interview friends, acquaintances, clergymen, supervisors, first sergeant, co-workers, subordinates, and anyone in a position to shed light on the applicant’s moral, ethical or religious beliefs and how these beliefs have guided the applicant’s life. Only through a complete investigation of the application by the investigating officer are reviewing authorities in position to judge the merits of the application. (T-1)
  • 4.2.7. The applicant may submit any additional evidence, including sworn or unsworn written statements, and present any witnesses on his/her behalf; applicant is responsible for their attendance.
    • The commander exercising special court-martial jurisdiction will try (if reasonably available) to make available military members requested by the applicant as witnesses.
    • The applicant may question any other witnesses who appear and examine all items in the file.
  • 4.2.8. The Air Force does not require a verbatim record of the hearing.
    • If the applicant wants a verbatim record, he or she must make prior request which includes paying for the preparation, reproduction, and distribution of the record.
    • If the applicant elects a verbatim record, the applicant provides a copy to the investigating officer, at no expense to the government, within a reasonable time after the hearing.
    • If there is no verbatim record, the investigating officer will summarize the testimony of witnesses and permit the applicant or counsel to examine the summaries and then note, for the record, their differences with the investigating officer’s summary.
    • File in the hearing record copies of statements and other documents received in evidence.
  • 4.2.9. At the end of the investigation, the investigating officer will prepare a written report that contains:
    • The date of the hearing, if the applicant appeared, if the applicant was accompanied by counsel, and, if so, the latter’s identity, and whether the nature and purpose of the hearing were explained to the applicant and understood.
    • Any documents, statements, and other material received during the investigation.
    • Summaries of witness testimonies or a verbatim record of the testimonies, if there is one.
    • A statement of the investigating officer’s conclusions as to the underlying basis of the applicant’s conscientious objection and the sincerity of the applicant’s beliefs, including the reasons for such conclusions.
    • Subject to paragraph 5.3., the investigating officer’s recommendations for disposition of the case, including reasons for the recommendations. Limit the actions recommended to:
      • Denial of any classification as a CO.
      • Classification as a CO and assignment to noncombatant duties (1-A-O).
      • Classification as a CO and discharge (1-O). (T-1)
  • 4.2.10. The final record consists of:
    • The investigating officer’s report, along with the member’s application.
    • All interviews with chaplains and doctors.
    • Evidence from the investigating officer’s hearing.
    • The commander’s memorandum of appointment of the investigating officer.
    • Any other items submitted by the applicant in support of applicant’s case.
  • 4.2.11. The investigating officer will base conclusions and recommended disposition on the entire record and not merely on the evidence produced at the hearings.
  • 4.2.12. The investigating officer must furnish a copy of the record to the applicant when he or she forwards it to the servicing MPS and informs the applicant of the right to submit a rebuttal within 15 calendar days after receipt of a copy of the record. The case file must include a statement by the investigating officer, or a copy of a receipt from the applicant, showing the date on which the copy of the record was delivered to the applicant.
  • 4.2.13. If the applicant submits a rebuttal, the rebuttal must be included in the record.

Chapter 5

5.1. Final Decision Authorities.

  • 5.1.1. For officers: SAFPC makes the decision regarding CO status.
  • 5.1.2. For enlisted: The final approval decision is made by AFPC/DP2ST (active duty enlisted airmen), NGB/CF (ANG enlisted airmen), AFRC/CV (Air Force Reserve Unit Program – Cat A), and ARPC/CV (Air Force Reserve IR Program – IMA and PIRR)
  • 5.1.3. SAFPC is the disapproval authority for all enlisted.
  • 5.1.4. Decision authorities do not grant noncombatant status (1-A-O) as a compromise to an applicant claiming CO (1-O) status.

5.2. Justification for Approval.

  • 5.2.1. To approve a conscientious objection (1-O) classification the reviewing authorities must find that an applicant’s moral and ethical beliefs oppose participation in war in any form and that the applicant holds these beliefs with the strength of traditional religious convictions. (T-1)
  • 5.2.2. To approve an assignment to noncombatant training and service based on conscientious objection (1-A-O) the reviewing authorities must find that an applicant’s moral and ethical beliefs objects to participation as a combatant in war in any form, but whose convictions are such as to permit military service in a non-combatant stratus. (T-1)
  • 5.2.3. For either classification, the applicant must show that these moral and ethical convictions, once acquired, have directed the applicant’s life in the way traditional religious convictions of equal strength, depth, and duration direct the lives of those who have such beliefs. In other words, conscientious objection must be the primary controlling force in the applicant’s life. (T-1)
  • 5.2.4. A primary factor is the sincerity with which the applicant holds the belief. Exercise great care in determining whether the applicant honestly and genuinely holds asserted beliefs.
    • Determine sincerity by evaluating the applicant’s thinking and life style in its totality, past and present.
    • Information the applicant presents should clearly establish that avoidance of military service is not the basis of the claim.
  • 5.2.5. In evaluating applications, carefully examine and weigh the conduct of applicants, in particular their outward manifestation of their beliefs.
  • 5.2.6. Consider the following relevant factors:
    • Training in the home and place of worship.
    • General demeanor and pattern of conduct.
    • Participation in religious activities or other belief system activities.
    • Whether the applicant gained ethical or moral convictions through training, study, contemplation, or other activity comparable in rigor and dedication to formulating traditional religious convictions.
    • Credibility of the applicant.
    • Credibility of persons supporting the claim.
  • 5.2.7. Be particularly careful not to rule out bona fide beliefs simply because those beliefs are incompatible with one’s own.
    • It is not necessary that an applicant belong to a church or adhere to particular theological tenets for the Air Force to grant separation or assignment to noncombatant training and service.
    • The applicant’s affiliation with a church or other group that advocates conscientious objection as a tenet of its creed is not necessarily conclusive of an applicant’s position or belief.
    • Conversely, if an applicant is affiliated with a church or group that does not teach conscientious objection such affiliation does not necessarily rule out an applicant’s adherence to conscientious objection beliefs.
  • 5.2.8. Where an applicant is or has been a member of a church, religious organization, or religious sect, and where applicant’s claim of conscientious objection is related to the membership and the teachings of the church, religious organization, or religious sect, as well as the applicant’s religious activity may be considered.
    • However, the fact that the applicant may disagree with, or not subscribe to, some of the tenets of applicant’s church does not necessarily discredit applicant’s claim.
    • The personal convictions of each member are controlling so long as they derive from moral, ethical, or religious beliefs.
  • 5.2.9. Do not deny an applicant who is otherwise eligible for CO status simply because conscientious objection beliefs influence his or her views on domestic or foreign policy. The task is to decide whether the applicant sincerely holds the beliefs, and whether they govern the applicant’s actions both in word and deed.

Attachment 2

A2.1. Any member seeking discharge from the Air Force or assignment to noncombatant duties as a CO must provide, at a minimum, the information indicated below. This in no way bars the Air Force from requiring additional information. The individual may submit such other additional information as desired.

  • A2.1.1. General Information Concerning Applicant:
    • A2.1.1.1. Full name.
  • A2.1.2. Social Security number (SSN).
  • A2.1.3. Selective Service number (if applicable).
  • A2.1.4. Service address.
  • A2.1.5. Permanent home address.
  • A2.1.6. Name and address of each school and college attended (after age 16), dates of attendance, and the type of school (public, church, military, commercial, etc.).
  • A2.1.7. A chronological list of all occupations, positions, jobs, or types of work (other than work after age 16 performed while in school or college) whether for monetary compensation or not. Include the type of work, name of employer, address of employer, and the “from” and “to” date for each position or job held.
  • A2.1.8. All former addresses (after age 16) and dates of residence at those addresses.
  • A2.1.9. Parents’ names and addresses. Indicate whether they are living or deceased.
  • A2.1.10. The religious denomination, sect, or belief system of both parents.
  • A2.1.11. Was application made to the Selective Service System (local board) for classification as a conscientious objector before entry into the Air Force?
    • A2.1.11.1. To which local board?
    • A2.1.11.2. What decision was made by the board, if known?
  • A2.1.12. When the applicant has served fewer than 180 days in the military service:
    • A2.1.12.1. A statement as to whether they are willing to perform work under the Selective Service civilian work program for COs, if discharged as a CO.
  • A2.1.12.2. A statement as to whether they consent to a work order for such work issued by their local Selective Service Board.

A2.2. Training and Belief:

  • A2.2.1. A description of the nature of the belief that requires the applicant to seek separation from the military service or assignment to noncombatant training and duty for reasons of conscience. If applying for noncombatant service, the reason why the applicant wants to continue active duty service and in what capacity, how remaining on active duty won’t adversely affect their beliefs or the beliefs of others in the unit, and why it’s in the best interest of the Air Force to remain on active duty until completion of their current enlistment (enlisted) or furthest ADSC (officers).
  • A2.2.2. An explanation as to how the beliefs changed or developed, to include an explanation of the factors (how, when, from whom, or from what source applicant received training or acquired belief) contributing to conscientious objection beliefs.
  • A2.2.3. An explanation as to when these beliefs became incompatible with military service, and why.
  • A2.2.4. An explanation as to the circumstances, if any, under which the applicant believes in the use of force, and to what extent, under any foreseeable circumstances.
  • A2.2.5. An explanation as to how the applicant’s daily life style has changed as a result of the beliefs and what future actions applicant plans to continue to support applicant’s beliefs.
  • A2.2.6. A description of what most conspicuously demonstrates the consistency and depth of the beliefs that gave rise to the claim.

A2.3. Participation in Organizations:

  • A2.3.1. Information as to whether applicant has ever been a member of any military organization or establishment before entering present term of service. If so, applicant must give the name and address of such organization along with the reasons why applicant was a member.
  • A2.3.2. A statement as to whether applicant is a member of a religious sect or organization. If so, the statement must show:
    • A2.3.2.1. The name of the sect and the name and location of its governing body or head.
    • A2.3.2.2. When, where, and how the applicant became a member of said sect or organization.
    • A2.3.2.3. The name and location of any church, congregation, or meeting that the applicant customarily attends and the extent of the applicant’s active participation.
    • A2.3.2.4. The name, title, and present address of the pastor or leader of such church, congregation, or meeting.
    • A2.3.2.5. A description of the organization’s or sect’s creed or official statements, if any, and if known, any statements of the religious sect or organization regarding participation in war.
  • A2.3.3. A description of applicant’s relationships with and activities in all organizations with which applicant is or has been affiliated, other than military, political, or labor organizations.

A2.4. References. Any additional information, such as letters of reference or official statements of organizations to which the applicant belongs or refers to in the application, that the applicant wishes the Air Force authority reviewing the application to consider. The burden is on the applicant to obtain and forward such information.

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