Common Tasks

One of our pet peeves is the common meme among the left that our soldiers are mindless killbots, innocent youth of America forced to be brainwashed and turned into unthinking automatons with an incurable bloodlust. Further, the incorrect assumption that only our most disadvantaged youth join the service plays into this.

Really?

The services actually underrepresent the lowest socioeconomic quintile. And the fact of the matter is, it takes considerable intellect to be an effective soldier, in any Military Occupational Specialty.

There are certain tasks every soldier in the Army, from the newest private to the Chief of Staff, must master. The very first task listed in STP-21-1-SMTC “Warrior Skills- Skill Level 1” is this:

181-105-1001
Comply with the Law of War and the Geneva and Hague Conventions
Conditions: You are a Soldier in the U.S. Army. As a Soldier, you must identify,
understand, and comply with the provisions of the Law of War, including the
Geneva and Hague Conventions. You must also identify any suspected or known
violations of the Law of War and notify the appropriate authorities.
Standards: Identify, understand, and comply with the Law of War. Identify
problems or situations that violate the policies and take appropriate action (including
notifying appropriate authorities) so that expedient action may be taken to correct
the problem or situation.
Performance Steps
1. Define the Customary Law of War.
a. Describe the purpose and result of the Customary Law of War.
b. Describe the relationship between the Customary Law of War and the
Hague Convention of 1907 and the Geneva Convention of 1949.
2. Describe the basics of the Hague and Geneva Conventions.
3. Describe the United States’ responsibilities to comply with the Hague and
Geneva Conventions, and the Customary Law of War.
4. Describe the limitation on targets according to the Customary Law of War
and Hague Conventions.
a. Describe the International Law’s prohibition on intentionally targeting
or attacking civilians.
b. Describe the Hague Regulations’ prohibition on destroying or seizing
enemy property unless demanded by military necessity.
c. Describe the Hague Regulations’ provisions on attacking a military
target or a place occupied by a combatant force.
d. Describe the Hague Regulations’ prohibition against attacking an
undefended town, village, dwellings, buildings or other such place.
(1) Define an undefended place according to the Hague Convention.
(2) Describe the effect of medical units, wounded and sick personnel,
and police forces within the undefended place on the character or status of the
undefended place.
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Performance Steps
e. Describe when attacking or bombarding defended places is permitted.
(1) Define a defended place
(2) Describe the status (defended or undefended) of a city or town
surrounded by detached defense positions.
f. Describe when attacking a military objective, including bombardment,
is permitted.
g. Describe the relationship between military necessity versus
unnecessary suffering or destruction.
h. Describe the protections given to buildings dedicated to religion, art,
science, or charitable purposes, or historic monuments during an attack or
bombardment.
i. Describe the effect on protected status given to buildings dedicated to
religion, art, science, or charitable purposes, or historic monuments if these
buildings are being used for military purposes.
j. Describe the protections given to hospitals and other places where the
sick and wounded are collected during an attack or bombardment.
(1) Describe the effect on this protected status if enemy Soldiers are
the sick or wounded inside these hospitals or medical areas.
(2) Describe the effect on this protected status if these hospitals or
medical areas are being used for military purposes.
k. Describe what may be an illegal trick or method or treacherous act
under the Law of War in regards to permissible targets.
l. Describe why illegal tricks or methods or treacherous acts are
prohibited.
m. Describe the legality of incidental damage to surrounding buildings
during an attack on a legitimate target.
5. Describe the Customary Law of War and Hague Regulations’ prohibitions
on using certain types of weapons.
a. Describe the Hague Regulations’ prohibitions on employing arms,
material, or projectiles designated to cause unnecessary suffering
b. Describe how a Soldier could violate the Law of War by using an
issued weapon in an illegal manner.
c. Describe the Hague Regulations’ prohibitions on using poison or
poisoned weapons against human beings in war.
d. Describe the 1925 Geneva Protocol’s prohibition on using asphyxiating,
poisonous, or other gases and the prohibition of bacteriological methods of
warfare in war.
STP 21-1-SMCT 18 June 2009 181-105-1001 3-3
Performance Steps
e. Describe the 1925 Geneva Protocol’s ban on using chemical weapons in
war.
(1) Describe the United States’ prohibition on the first use in war of
chemical weapons.
(2) Describe the United States’ reservation to use chemical weapons
against a State if that State fails to respect the Geneva Protocol’s ban on using
chemical weapons.
(3) Define a lethal chemical agent and described how this Geneva
Protocol applies to a lethal chemical agent.
(4) Define an incapacitating chemical agent and described how this
Geneva Protocol applies to an incapacitating chemical agent.
(5) Describe the United States’ position that the Geneva Protocol
allows the use of either chemical herbicides or riot control agents in war.
(a) Describe the United States’ unilateral renouncement of first
use of herbicides in war and exception to this policy.
(b) Describe the United States’ policy regarding first use of riot
control agents in war.
(c) Describe the requirement for Presidential approval prior to
using herbicides or riot control agents in armed conflict.
(6) Describe the United States’ position on the initial or retaliatory use
of bacteriological methods of warfare.
(7) Describe the 1925 Geneva Protocol’s position on using smoke and
incendiary materials in war.
(8) Describe International Law’s position on using nuclear weapons
by air, sea, or land forces.
6. Describe the rules of the Customary Law of War and Geneva Convention of
1949 governing the humane treatment of persons taking no active role in
hostilities.
a. Define a noncombatant.
b. Define humane treatment.
c. Describe acts that are strictly prohibited against noncombatants
d. Describe humane treatment of prisoners of war.
(1) Describe how all captured persons are entitled to be treated as
prisoners of war until their actual status is determined.
(2) Describe the requirement to evacuate all captured or detained
persons to a detainee collection point.
(3) Describe who determines a captured or detained person’s status.
(4) Describe the prohibition on using physical force, mental torture, or
coercion to obtain information.
(5) Describe what information the 1949 Geneva Prisoner of War
Convention requires a Prisoner of War to provide to his/her captor.
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Performance Steps
(6) Describe what actions a captor or detaining power may take
against a prisoner of war who refuses to answer questions, and described the
practical reasons for this policy.
(7) Describe the required treatment of prisoners of war in regards to—
(a) Daily food and living quarters.
(b) Medical care.
(c) Personal hygiene.
(d) Exercising or observing religious faith.
(e) Retention of personal property.
(f) Receiving and sending mail.
(g) Having a prisoner’s representative.
(h) Maintaining a chain of command.
(i) Requirement to work.
(8) Describe a prisoner of war’s responsibility to obey lawful camp
rules and disciplinary actions that may be taken against the prisoner of war for
violating these rules.
e. Describe humane treatment of the wounded and sick.
(1) Describe how Article 14 of the Geneva Convention for the
Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in the Armed Forces in
the Field (GWS) applies and what it provides regarding the prisoner of war status
of wounded and sick belligerents who fall into enemy hands.
(2) Describe what GWS Article 12 provides regarding protecting and
treating members of the Armed Forces who are wounded or sick.
(3) Describe the requirement to leave medical personnel and material
behind to care for the wounded and sick.
(4) Describe the protections given to medical personnel.
(a) Describe how these protections apply to military medics.
(b) Describe how these protections apply to medical staff
exclusively engaged in administering to medical units and establishments.
(c) Describe how these protections apply to chaplains attached to
the Armed Forces.
(d) Describe how these protections apply to the staff of national
Red Cross societies and other voluntary aid organizations.
(5) Describe the status of captured full-time medical personnel as
prisoners of war or retained personnel.
(a) Describe the right of retained medical personnel to perform
medical duties.
(b) Describe the rights and time limitation of the detaining power
to retain full-time medical personnel under the Geneva Convention for the
Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in the Armed Forces in
the Field.
STP 21-1-SMCT 18 June 2009 181-105-1001 3-5
Performance Steps
(c) Describe the requirement and procedures that the detaining
power must follow to return retained medical personnel.
(d) Describe the concept of retained personnel under the Geneva
Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.
(e) Describe the requirement of retained personnel to follow the
captor’s internal disciplinary system at the camp where they are detained.
(6) Describe the status and protection given to members of the Armed
Forces specially trained to serve as hospital orderlies, nurses, or auxiliary
stretcher bearers.
(a) Describe these individual’s status as prisoners of war versus
retained personnel.
(b) Describe these individuals’ rights on returning to their own
side.
(c) Describe these individual’s rights regarding working or
performing duties while in the prisoner of war camp.
(7) Describe the status and protections given to members of
recognized aid societies of neutral countries which lend the assistance of their
medical personnel and units to a party to the conflict.
(a) Describe the consent, authorization, and control mechanism
required for these individuals to assist a party to the conflict.
(b) Describe the notification requirements necessary for these
individuals to assist a party to the conflict.
(c) Describe the captor’s right to detain these individuals and the
requirement to return them to their own side.
(d) Describe the work these individuals may perform while
detained.
(8) Describe the protected status of medical property, material, and
equipment under the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of
the Wounded and Sick in the Armed Forces in the Field.
(a) Describe the circumstances under which fixed medical
establishments and mobile units of the medical service may be attacked.
(b) Describe the duty to ensure medical establishments and units
are not situated near military objectives.
(c) Describe the relationship between protections given to
medical establishments and incidental damage, injury, or death to patients or
personnel.
(d) Describe the possible loss of its protected status if fixed
medical establishments and mobile units are used to commit acts harmful to the
enemy.
(e) Describe the requirement for the enemy to warn the medical
establishment prior to the loss of its protected status.
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Performance Steps
(f) Describe that only after the enemy provides such warning,
and the warning remains unheeded, will the medical establishment’s protection
lapse.
(g) Describe circumstances that do not deprive a medical unit or
establishment of its protection.
(h) Describe whether medical personnel being armed and using
these arms to defend themselves and the sick and wounded deprive the medical
unit or establishment of its protection.
(i) Describe whether the medical unit or establishment being
protected by a picket, sentries, or an escort in the absence of armed orderlies
deprives the medical unit or establishment of its protection.
(j) Describe whether finding small arms and ammunition taken
from the wounded and sick but not yet turned over to the proper service at the
medical unit or establishment deprives the medical unit or establishment of its
protection.
(k) Describe whether personnel from the medical unit or
establishment providing humanitarian care to the civilian wounded or sick
deprives the medical unit or establishment of its protection.
(l) Describe the provisions of the Geneva Convention for the
Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in the Armed Forces in
the Field on establishing hospital zones and localities in order to shield the
wounded and sick from the impact of war.
(m) Describe the enemy’s obligation to restore medical buildings
to the other side and to return captured medical material, stores, and equipment.
(n) Describe the authority of a Commander to use medical
buildings for other than medical purposes, in cases of urgent military necessity.
(o) Describe the private property status and the right of
requisition of real and personal property of aid societies.
(p) Describe the protected status of medical aircraft.
(q) Define a medical aircraft.
(r) Describe the requirement for medical aircraft to fly at
heights, times, and on routes specifically agreed upon between the conflicting
parties.
(s) Describe the required protective markings that must be
displayed on medical aircraft.
(t) Describe the prohibition against medical aircraft flying over
enemy territory or enemy-occupied territory.
(u) Describe the requirement for medical aircraft to land upon
request from the enemy.
(v) Describe the right of medical aircraft to continue the flight
after examination by the enemy.
STP 21-1-SMCT 18 June 2009 181-105-1001 3-7
Performance Steps
(w) Describe the prisoner of war status of the wounded and sick
and the aircraft crew captured by the enemy after an involuntary landing of the
medical aircraft because of mechanical failure or inclement weather.
(x) Describe the emblem or distinctive sign of the medical
service of an Armed Force
(y) Describe what other medical service emblems are recognized
by the Geneva Convention.
(z) Describe whether the Star of David, used by the State of
Israel, is specifically recognized by the Geneva Conventions.
(aa) Describe when and where these medical service emblems
must be displayed.
(ab) Describe what medical service emblems medical personnel
are required to wear and where these emblems should be displayed.
(ac) Describe the requirement for medical personnel to carry a
special identification card bearing the medical emblem.
(ad) Describe the circumstances under which medical personnel
may be deprived of their insignia or identification cards or the right to wear the
armlet.
(ae) Describe the right of medical personnel to receive duplicate
identification cards or to replace insignia if lost.
(af) Describe the medical service emblems that auxiliary stretcher
bearers must wear and when they must wear these emblems.
(ag) Describe what information must be specified on the military
identification documents of auxiliary stretcher bearers.
(ah) Describe what flag may be flown over medical units and
establishments.
(ai) Describe what flags may be flown over captured medical
units.
(aj) Describe the requirement for distinctive emblems indicating
medical units and establishments to be clearly visible to the enemy land, air, or
naval forces.
(ak) Describe what flags may be flown over medical units
belonging to aid societies of neutral countries assisting a party to the conflict.
f. Describe the humane treatment of civilians.
(1) Describe the rights and protections given to the civilian population
of the country in conflict under Article 27 of the Geneva Convention Relative to
the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
(2) Describe the rights of civilians to be protected against all acts or
threats of violence and against insults and public curiosity.
(3) Describe the rights of civilian women to be protected against
attack, enforced prostitution, rape and other forms of sexual assault.
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Performance Steps
(4) Describe the right of an occupying force to enforce control and
security measures and how commanders must ensure that all persons are treated
humanely while enforcing control and security measures.
(5) Describe the right of civilians not to be subjected to medical or
scientific experiments, or made the object of collective penalties or reprisals, or
held hostage.
(6) Describe the right of civilians to have their property protected
from pillage or looting.
(7) Describe the right of the occupying power to establish laws and to
try and punish civilians for violation of these occupation laws.
7. Describe the responsibilities of U.S. Soldiers to obey the Law of War.
a. Describe how U.S. Soldiers are bound to obey all the rules of the
Customary Law of War and the Hague and Geneva Conventions.
b. Describe how U.S. Soldiers may be court-martialed for violating these
rules.
c. Describe how U.S. Soldiers may also be prosecuted for committing a
war crime.
d. Define a Grave Breach of the Law of War.
(1) Describe what offenses may constitute a grave breach.
(2) Describe what disciplinary actions may be taken against U.S.
Soldiers who commit grave breaches.
(3) Describe the statute of limitations on prosecuting a war crime.
(4) Describe the responsibilities of the United States, as a signatory of
the Geneva Conventions, regarding a person who commits a grave breach.
e. Describe the responsibilities of the commander in regards to violations
of the Law of War.
(1) Describe how the legal responsibility for the commission of a war
crime can be placed on the Commander as well as the subordinate who actually
commits the war crime.
(2) Describe the circumstances under which a commander may be
prosecuted for the commission of a war crime.
f. Describe an unlawful order and a Soldier’s responsibility toward an
unlawful order
(1) Describe the applicability of a Soldier asserting the defense of
“obeying superior orders” for the commission of a war crime.
(2) Describe whether a subordinate Soldier, who actually commits a
war crime, is excused from prosecution if the commander is charged with the
commission of the war crime.
(3) Describe the responsibility of a Soldier to disobey any order which
requires the Soldier to commit criminal acts in violation of the Law of War
(4) Describe the responsibility of a Soldier to obey the rules of
engagement and the potential consequences for violating the rules of engagement.
(5) Describe the responsibility of the Soldier to ask a superior for
clarification of an order suspected to be criminal or unlawful.
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Performance Steps
g. Describe a Soldier’s obligation to report violations of the Law of War.
(1) Describe the requirement of a Soldier to inform the chain of
command of known or suspected violations of the Law of War.
(2) Describe what other avenues or agencies are available for the
Soldier to report known or suspected violations of the Law of War.
(3) Describe when Soldiers should notify their chain of command or
alternative agencies of known or suspected violations of the Law of War.

I’ve taken college level courses that weren’t that tough.

5 thoughts on “Common Tasks”

  1. This is an interesting piece, I found myself looking at it and asking a simple but complex question. To whom, is this assignment addressed? When is this assignment due? Your answer, simple or complex, will speak volumes. One last question, if the President of the US can give you order, then he or she is responsible. Don’t forget, we can’t go above our pay grade.

    Albert Einstein said, “It is simple to make things complex and complex to make things simple.”

    This only begins a very long and tedious discussion that we must have on the record. In many ways, the failure to do this was the very same that brought us to the Trials at Nuremberg.

    1. Grumpy, EVERY soldier has to display a working knowledge of the Rules and Law of Warfare.

      Every soldier in the Army has to pass THIS task annually.

  2. Brad, EVERY soldier has displayed a working knowledge of the Rules and Law of Warfare on a DAILY BASIS. This is proven by their actions in everything they do. This is better than any annual task.

  3. I’m with Grumpy on this. CTT testing is a lost art in the army anymore, to be replaced by powerpoint classes to semi-comatose Soldiers as a check-the-block for deployment, plus a lecture from the JAG and a couple of vignettes. However, come real operations, the Soldiers invariably pull it out. I have always been impressed by the number of times I have seen small units take large volumes of fire, and return either none, or very limited quantities because they couldn’t positively ID the target. That is adherence to the laws of land warfare in a nutshell.

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