Prevention of War Crimes. Commanders must take steps to ensure that members of their commands do not violate the
Law of War. The two principal means of effecting this goal are to recognize the factors which may lead to the
commission of war crimes, and to train subordinate commanders and troops to standard concerning compliance with the
law of war and proper responses to orders that violate the LOW.
Awareness of the factors that have historically led to the commission of war crimes allows the commander to take
preventive action. The following is a list of some of the factors that the commander and the judge advocate should
monitor in subordinate units.
(1) High friendly losses.
(2) High turnover rate in the chain of command.
(3) Dehumanization of the enemy (derogatory names or epithets).
(4) Poorly trained or inexperienced troops.
(5) The lack of a clearly defined enemy.
(6) Unclear orders.
(7) High frustration level among the troops.
Soldiers who receive unclear orders or who receive orders that clearly violate the LOW must understand how to react
to such orders. Accordingly, the judge advocate must ensure that soldiers receive instruction in this area. Troops who
receive unclear orders must insist on clarification. Normally, the superior issuing the unclear directive will make it clear,
when queried, that it was not his intent to commit a war crime. If the superior insists that his illegal order be obeyed,
however, the soldier has an affirmative legal obligation to disobey the order and report the incident to the next superior
commander, military police, CID, nearest judge advocate, or local inspector general.
International Criminal Tribunals
Violations of the Law of War, as crimes defined by international law, may also be prosecuted under the auspices of
international tribunals, such as the Nuremberg, Tokyo, and Manila tribunals established by the Allies to prosecute
German and Japanese war criminals after World War II. The formation of the United Nations has also resulted in the
exercise of criminal jurisdiction over war crimes by the international community, with the Security Council's creation of
the International Tribunal to Adjudicate War Crimes Committed in the Former Yugoslavia.
Law of War