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United States Military Code of Conduct

Article 5

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Article V

When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

Explanation: When questioned, a POW is required by the Geneva Conventions and the CoC, and is permitted by the UCMJ, to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. Under the Geneva Conventions, the enemy has no right to try to force a POW to provide any additional information. However, it is unrealistic to expect a POW to remain confined for years reciting only name, rank, service number, and date of birth. There are many POW camp situations in which certain types of conversation with the enemy are permitted. For example, a POW is allowed, but not required by the CoC, the UCMJ, or the Geneva Conventions, to fill out a Geneva Conventions "capture card," to write letters home, and to communicate with captors on matters of camp administration and health and welfare.

The senior POW is required to represent fellow POWs in matters of camp administration, health, welfare, and grievances. However, POWs must constantly bear in mind that the enemy has often viewed POWs as valuable sources of military information and propaganda that they can use to further their war effort.

Accordingly, each POW must exercise great caution when completing a "capture card," when engaging in authorized communication with the captor, and when writing letters. A POW must resist, avoid, or evade, even when physically and mentally coerced, all enemy efforts to secure statements or actions that may further the enemy's cause.

Examples of statements or actions POWs should resist include giving oral or written confessions; making propaganda recordings and broadcast appeals to other POWs to comply with improper captor demands; appealing for U.S. surrender or parole; engaging in self-criticisms; and providing oral or written statements or communications on behalf of the enemy or harmful to the United States, its allies, the Armed Forces, or other POWs. Captors have used POWs' answers to questions of a personal nature, questionnaires, or personal history to create improper statements such as those listed above.

A POW should recognize the enemy might use any confession or statement as part of a false accusation that the captive is a war criminal rather than a POW. Moreover, certain countries have made reservations to the Geneva Conventions (reference (g)) in which they assert that a war criminal conviction has the effect of depriving the convicted individual of POW status. These countries may assert that the POW is removed from protection under reference (g) and the right to repatriation is thus revoked until the individual serves a prison sentence.

If a POW finds that, under intense coercion, he unwillingly or accidentally discloses unauthorized information, the Service member should attempt to recover and resist with a fresh line of mental defense.

POW experience has shown that although enemy interrogation sessions may be harsh and cruel, it is usually possible to resist, if there is a will to resist.

The best way for a POW to keep faith with the United States, fellow POWs, and oneself is to provide the enemy with as little information as possible.

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