United States of America
Practice Relating to Rule 142. Instruction in International Humanitarian Law within Armed Forces
The US Field Manual (1956) states: “The purpose of this Manual is to provide authoritative guidance to military personnel on the customary and treaty law applicable to the conduct of warfare on land.”
The manual further incorporates the content of Article 47 of the 1949 Geneva Convention I, Article 48 of the 1949 Geneva Convention II, Article 127 of the 1949 Geneva Convention III and Article 144 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV.
The US Air Force Pamphlet (1976) quotes a directive of the Department of Defense which provides:
The Armed Forces of the United States will insure that programs to prevent violations of the law of war to include training and dissemination as required by the Geneva Conventions … and by [the 1907] Hague Convention IV … are instituted and implemented …
The Secretaries of the Military Departments will develop internal policies and procedures consistent with this Directive in support of the [Department of Defense] law of war program in order to:
1. Provide publications, instructions, and training so that the principles and rules of the law of war will be known to members of their respective departments, the extent of such knowledge to be commensurate with each individual’s duties and responsibilities.
The Pamphlet also stipulates: “All states must include the text of the Conventions in programs of military … instruction.”
The US Soldier’s Manual (1984) states:
Although all Americans – soldiers, citizens, and leaders – have a legal obligation to know and abide by these laws of war, soldiers must be especially aware of them … This publication is intended to help you, today’s soldier, know and understand these laws of war.
The US Instructor’s Guide (1985) states: “All soldiers must know about [the 1907 Hague Conventions and the 1949 Geneva Conventions] and customary laws and understand how they work.”
The Guide also specifies:
This circular provides guidance, lesson outlines, and courses for required training in the law of war which includes the Hague Convention Number IV of 1907, the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and the customary law of war.
The US Naval Handbook (1995) provides:
It is the responsibility of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps … to ensure that:
All service members of the Department of the Navy, commensurate with their duties and responsibilities, receive, through publications, instructions, training programs and exercises, training and education in the law of armed conflict.
The US Naval Handbook (2007) states: “All service members of the Department of the Navy, commensurate with their duties and responsibilities, must receive, through publications, instructions, training programs and exercises, training and education in the law of armed conflict.”
The US Manual on Detainee Operations (2008) states:
Training for Detainee Operations
… When U.S. forces conduct detainee operations, they must possess the text of the applicable  Geneva Conventions and be instructed as to their provisions. Because the Armed Forces of the United States comply with the law of war as a matter of DOD [Department of Defense] policy during all operations, this requirement is applicable as a matter of policy to all detention operations.
The 1979 version of the US Department of Defense Directive on the Law of War Program stated: “The Armed Forces of the U.S. shall institute and implement programs to prevent violations of the law of war to include training and dissemination, as required, by the Geneva Conventions.”
In 1987, a Deputy Legal Adviser of the US Department of State, referring to Articles 80–85 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, affirmed: “We support the principle that their study be included in programs of military instruction.”
In 1991, in response to an ICRC memorandum on the applicability of IHL in the Gulf region, the US Department of the Army stated: “The U.S. strongly supports [dissemination of IHL]. DoD Directive 5100.77, in implementation of U.S. law of war obligations, requires that all military personnel receive law of war training commensurate with their duties and responsibilities.”
The 1998 version of the US Department of Defense (DoD) Directive on the Law of War Program, reissuing the one of 1979 and aiming “to ensure DoD compliance with the law of war obligations of the United States”, provided:
The Heads of the DoD Components shall: … institute and implement effective programs to prevent violations of the law of war, including law of war training and dissemination, as required by [the 1907 Hague Convention (IV) and the 1949 Geneva Conventions].
In May 2004, Major General Antonio M. Taguba completed his report of an investigation, ordered by the Commander Coalition Forces Land Component Command, into allegations of detainee abuse and maltreatment by members of the 800th Military Police Brigade at Abu Ghraib Prison (Baghdad Central Confinement Facility (BCCF)). In part, the report recommended:
That all military police and military intelligence personnel involved in any aspect of detainee operations or interrogation operations in CJTF-7 [Commander, Combined Joint Task Force Seven], and subordinate units, be immediately provided with training by an international/operational law attorney on the specific provisions of The Law of Land Warfare FM 27-10, specifically the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Enemy Prisoners of War, Retained Personnel, Civilian Internees, and Other Detainees, and AR 190-8 [Enemy Prisoners of War, Retained Personnel, Civilian Internees, and Other Detainees].
That detention facility commanders and interrogation facility commanders ensure that appropriate copies of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War and notice of protections be made available in both English and the detainees’ language and be prominently displayed in all detention facilities. Detainees with questions regarding their treatment should be given the full opportunity to read the Convention.
Detention Rules of Engagement (DROE), Interrogation Rules of Engagement (IROE), and the principles of the Geneva Conventions need to be briefed at every shift change and guard mount.
The Geneva Conventions and the facility rules must be prominently displayed in English and the language of the detainees at each compound and encampment at every detention facility IAW [in accordance with] AR 190-8.
On 25 August 2004, the report of an investigation into allegations that members of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade had been involved in detainee abuse at the Abu Ghraib Detention Facility (an investigation ordered by the Commander, Combined Joint Task Force Seven (CJTF-7), and later supplemented with the appointment of an additional and more senior investigating officer by the Commander, US Army Materiel Command), was completed and forwarded to the ordering authorities. The report, authored by Lieutenant General Anthony R. Jones and Major General George R. Fay, found:
(12) Finding: Interrogator training in the Laws of Land Warfare and the Geneva Conventions is ineffective.
Explanation: The US Army Intelligence Center and follow on unit training provided interrogators with what appears to be adequate curriculum, practical exercises and man-hours in Law of Land Warfare and Geneva Conventions training. Soldiers at Abu Ghraib, however, remained uncertain about what interrogation procedures were authorized and what proper reporting procedures were required. This indicates that Initial Entry Training for interrogators was not sufficient or was not reinforced properly by additional unit training or leadership.
Recommendation: More training emphasis needs to be placed on Soldier and leader responsibilities concerning the identification and reporting of detainee abuse incidents or concerns up through the chain of command, or to other offices such as CID [Criminal Investigation Command], IG [Inspector General] or SJA [Staff Judge Advocate]. This training should not just address the rules, but address case studies from recent and past detainee and interrogation operations to address likely issues interrogators and their supervisors will encounter. Soldiers and leaders need to be taught to integrate Army values and ethical decision-making to deal with interrogation issues that are not clearly prohibited or allowed. Furthermore, it should be stressed that methods employed by US Army interrogators will represent US values.
(13) Finding: MI [Military Intelligence], MP [Military Police], and Medical Corps personnel observed and failed to report instances of Abuse at Abu Ghraib. Likewise, several reports indicated that capturing units did not always treat detainees IAW [in accordance with]the Geneva Convention.
: DoD [Department of Defense] should improve training provided to all personnel in Geneva Conventions, detainee operations, and the responsibilities of reporting detainee abuse.
In December 2004, in a response to a communication from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding the detention and treatment of detainees held at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the United States stated:
[P]ersonnel assigned to Guantanamo go through an extensive professional and sensitivity training process to ensure they understand the procedures for protecting the rights and dignity of detainees at Guantanamo:
Personnel mobilizing for duty at Guantanamo receive training prior to deployment on detention facility operations, self-defense, safety, and rules on the use of force. Before beginning work at the facility, personnel again receive training on the Law of Armed Conflict, the rules of engagement, the standard operating procedures, and military justice.
During their tour they continue to receive briefings, and before every detainee movement they are briefed again on the rules of engagement and rules on the use of force.
In 2005, in its second periodic report to the Committee Against Torture, the United States stated:
90. Personnel assigned to detention operations go through an extensive professional and sensitivity training process to ensure they understand the procedures for protecting the rights and dignity of detainees.
- Personnel mobilizing to detention operations receive training prior to deployment on detention facility operations, self-defense, safety, and rules on the use of force. Before beginning work, personnel again receive training on the law of armed conflict, the rules of engagement, the Standard Operating Procedures, military justice, and specific policies applying to detention operations in their area of responsibility. This is true of all service members deploying to serve in detention operations. All U.S. service members receive general training on the law of armed conflict, including the  Geneva Conventions, as well as further law of armed conflict training commensurate with their duties.
122. U.S. Armed Forces receive significant training before being deployed and during their deployment. The United States incorporates by reference that section and reiterates that all employees and Armed Forces deployed in detention missions receive extensive training and education on the laws and customs of armed conflict, including humane treatment procedures and the obligations of the United States in conducting detention operations. With respect to Iraq, U.S. Armed Forces serving as interrogators and detention personnel are also trained to conduct themselves in accordance with the principles (including the prohibition on torture) set forth in the Geneva Conventions and to treat detainees humanely regardless of status.
In 2007, in its comments on the Human Rights Committee’s concluding observations on its second and third periodic reports, the United States stated in response to a recommendation concerning the provision of adequate training and guidance to personnel following allegations of suspicious deaths, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment inflicted by US personnel on detainees:
[T]he United States takes proactive measures not only to punish perpetrators of abuse but to train its personnel to prevent such acts, in particular by providing adequate training and clear guidance to its personnel (including commanders) and contract employees, about their respective obligations and responsibilities. Education programs and information for military personnel (including contractors) that are involved in the custody, interrogation or treatment of individuals in detention include extensive training on the law of war. This training is provided on an annual basis (or more frequently, as appropriate) for the members of every military service and every person, including contractors, who works with detainees. This training on the law of war includes instruction on the prohibition against torture and the requirement of humane treatment.