acts and are captured do not meet the legal criteria of PW under the GPW. These persons may be termed "detainees"
instead of PW.
Wounded and Sick in the Field and at Sea. (GWS, art. 12; GWS Sea, art. 12.)
The first and second Geneva Conventions as well as the 1977 Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions deal
with protections for the wounded and sick, to include the shipwrecked.
All wounded and sick in the hands of the enemy must be respected and protected (See para. 208, FM 27-10,
GWS Art 13, and GC, Art 16). "Each belligerent must treat his fallen adversaries as he would the wounded of his own
army" (Pictet's Commentary, GWS, p. 137). The order of treatment is determined solely by urgent medical reasons
(triage). No adverse distinctions in treatment may be established because of sex, race, nationality, religion, political
opinions, or any other similar criteria (GWS, Art 12).
If compelled to abandon the wounded and sick to the enemy, commanders must leave medical personnel and
material to assist in their care, "as far as military considerations permit" (GWS, Art 12). At all times, and particularly
after an engagement parties are obligated to search for the wounded and sick - as conditions permit (GWS, Art 15).
Permanent medical personnel "exclusively engaged" in medical duties (GWS, Art 24), chaplains (GWS, Art
24), personnel of national Red Cross Societies, and other recognized relief organizations (GWS, Art 26), shall not be
intentionally attacked. Upon capture they are "retained personnel," not PWs; however, at a minimum they receive PW
protections. They are to perform only medical or religious duties. They are to be retained as long as required to treat the
health and spiritual needs of PWs. If not required they are to be repatriated (GWS, Art 28). Personnel of aid societies of
neutral countries cannot be retained, and must be returned as soon as possible.
Medical units and establishments may not be attacked. (GWS, Art 19). However, incidental damage to
medical facilities situated near military objectives is not a violation of the law of war. Medical units and facilities lose
their protection if committing "acts harmful to the enemy," and, if after a reasonable time, they fail to heed a warning to
desist. No warning requirement if taking fire from the medical unit or establishment; e.g., Richmond Hills Hospital,
Grenada (GWS, Art 21, Pictet's Commentary on GWS, pp. 200-201).
Those soldiers who have fallen by reason of sickness or wounds and who cease to fight are to be respected
and protected. Under GP I, civilians are included in the definition of wounded and sick (who because of trauma, disease,
. . . are in need of medical assistance and care and who refrain from any act of hostility). (GP I, art. 8.) As a practical
matter, care should be provided to civilians if medical resources are available. Otherwise, civilian care remains the
primary responsibility of the civilian authorities.
Shipwrecked members of the armed forces at sea are to be respected and protected. (GWS Sea, art. 12, NWP
1-14M, para. 11.6). Shipwrecked includes downed passengers/crews on aircraft, ships in peril, castaways.
Parachutists (FM 27-10, supra, para. 30). Descending paratroopers are presumed to be on a military mission and
therefore may be targeted. Parachutists are crewmen of a disabled aircraft. They are presumed to be out of combat and
may not be targeted unless it is apparent they are engaged on a hostile mission. Parachutists, according to GP I, Article
42, "shall be given the opportunity to surrender before being made the object of attack."
General Rule. Civilians and civilian property may not be the subject or sole object of a military attack. Civilians
are persons who are not members of the enemy's armed forces, and who do not take part in the hostilities (GP I, art. 50
Indiscriminate Attacks. GP I provides for expanded protections of the civilian population from "indiscriminate"
attacks. Indiscriminate attacks include those where the incidental loss of civilian life, or damage to civilian objects,
would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated. (GP I, art. 51(4).)
Law of War