REASONS TO COMPLY WITH THE LOW--EVEN IF ENEMY DOES NOT
Compliance ends the conflict more quickly. Mistreatment of EPWs may encourage the remaining
enemy soldiers to fight harder and resist capture. During Operation DESERT STORM, favorable
treatment of Iraqi EPWs by coalition forces helped end the war quickly because reports of such
treatment likely encouraged massive surrender by other Iraqi soldiers.
Compliance enhances public support of our military mission; violations of the LOW seriously
reduce the support that U.S. soldiers generally receive not only from the U.S. public but also from
people in other countries (e.g., reports of misconduct in Vietnam reduced public support of military
Compliance encourages reciprocal conduct by enemy soldiers. Mistreatment of EPWs by our
soldiers may encourage enemy soldiers to treat captured U.S. soldiers in the same manner.
Compliance not only accelerates termination of the conflict but it also reduces the waste of our
resources in combat and the costs of reconstruction after the conflict ends.
Compliance is required by law. LOW arises in large part from treaties that are part of our national
law. Violation of the LOW is a serious crime punishable by death in some cases.
II. SOLDIER'S GENERAL RESPONSIBILITIES IN WARTIME
Carry out all lawful orders promptly and aggressively.
In rare case when an order seems unlawful, don't carry it out right away but don't ignore it either;
instead, seek immediate clarification of that order.
Soldiers may be held criminally responsible for any unlawful acts that they personally commit
in time of war. Since there is no "statute of limitations" on the prosecution of war crimes, soldiers may
have to defend themselves many years after the conflict ends.
If a soldier is court-martialed for carrying out an unlawful order, that soldier cannot normally
defend himself by claiming he was "just following orders." As a result of attending this class and
using common sense, soldiers are expected to be able to recognize an unlawful order and take
The Soldier's Rules.
Forbidden targets, tactics, and techniques. (See related material above)
Rules regarding captured soldiers.
Rules for the protection of civilians and private property. (See related material above)
Obligations to prevent and report LOW violations.