2/11/16 MRFF Demand Letter Re: Armed Green Beret Chaplains

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green_berets

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Patrick J. Murphy

Acting Secretary of the Army

101 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-0101

 

Dear Mr. Acting Secretary Murphy:

I am writing to express the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s great concern that Army Chaplains are attending assault training and even carrying weapons.

The Army recently posted an online article entitled “Special Forces Tab, Green Beret, SFQC – A Vehicle For Chaplains” (see addendum, pages 3-5). The article tells the stories of three Army Chaplains – Chaplain (Capt.) Mike Smith, Chaplain (Maj.) Timothy Maracle, and Chaplain (Maj.) Peter Hofman – who have completed the Special Forces Qualification Force (“SFQC”). While the article highlighted the sense of camaraderie with Special Forces soldiers these Chaplains claim such training fostered, it neglected to mention that these Chaplains are violating Army Regulations.

Army Regulation 165-1 states:

3-1f. Noncombatant. Chaplains will not bear arms in combat or in unit combat skills training. Chaplains function as protected personnel under the Geneva Convention and are noncombatants as a matter of Army policy (see FM 27-10). Chaplain activities in religious support operations will not compromise the noncombatant status. (emphasis added)

As you know, violation of an Army Regulation is punishable under the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. While only Chaplain (Maj.) Hofman admitted to carrying a weapon, it can safely be presumed that all three of these Chaplains used weapons while participating in the SFQC. Consequently, the Army should punish this clear violation, rather than praising it as a “vehicle for Chaplains.”

This regulation is necessary for the protection of Chaplains, as well as all others granted noncombatant status, such as medical personnel. It is designed to allow, even in war, for the spiritual care of combatants and POWs. If a handful of Chaplains violate this very clear regulation, the enemy has no reason to honor the protected status of any noncombatant.

While these Chaplains apparently believe that going through SFQC and carrying weapons helps them connect with the Special Forces soldiers they will counsel, MRFF submits it will actually have the opposite effect. In the article, Chaplain (Maj.) Hofman directly compared his mission with Special Forces with the mission of Jesus. As if that weren’t enough of a problem, he did so while carrying a weapon. The chilling effect such conviction while armed will have on the willingness of soldiers to seek counsel from him can only be monumental.

Regardless of any benefits these Chaplains believe are received from completing SFQC and carrying weapons, the nature of the military is to obey orders even if doing so causes great risk to that soldier’s own life. We demand that the Army Regulations be obeyed and that these Chaplains be disciplined for their violations as required by the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

 

Respectfully,

Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq.

Founder and President

Military Religious Freedom Foundation

 

CC:

Hon. Ruth S. Vetter, Esq. – Director, Standards of Conduct Office, Department of Defense General Counsel

Gen. Mark A. Milley, U.S. Army Chief of Staff

CH (MG) Paul K. Hurley, Chief of Chaplains of the United States Army

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11 Comments

  1. KAYTHEGARDENER

    Sad to say, but the Armed Forces are not the only depts of the government at all levels that play fast & loose with the Constitution & the laws of the land nowasays..
    These 3 chaplains (2 majors & a captain) certainly are not greenhorns who can claim that they have never heard of such regulations!!
    They had to APPLY FOR THIS SPECIAL TRAINING among a host of candidates, so THEY WERE AWARE OF WHAT THEY WERE DOING!!
    They are frankly being deliberately disobedient to the rules… and should be given a dishonorable discharge for their behavior.

  2. Bob

    The US military is faced with limits of funds available for training. This seems to me to have been a waste of three training spaces better used for those who perform the mission.

  3. Yeshua Warrior

    Mr. Weinstein, with all due respect, but the Taliban, Al-Queda and ISIS do not observe the Geneva Convention!! This is not WWII where the warring nations did observe it, but even then German soldiers would shoot at US medics. If I were a chaplain in a battle zone like Afghanistan or Iraq, I would like to have a side arm to defend myself from those who would want to capture me. Here is an article online in the UK Mail where the Royal Navy chaplains who are assigned to front line units with the Royal Marines and commandos wan the right to have a side arm – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-495281/Navy-chaplains-want-right-carry-weapons-protect-Taliban.html

    Another case in point, chaplains in the Israel Defense Forces carry fully automatic weapons – https://www.quora.com/Do-military-chaplains-ever-carry-weapons

    As a military chaplain, I would rather go out a martyr for Christ, than to surrender willingly to Islamic terrorists who will chop off my head.

  4. tomterrific

    The higher-level people who permitted these chaplains to take the SFQC are just as guilty and deserving of punishment, if not more so than, the chaplains who took the course.

  5. retired

    This has got to be the most asinine letters ever created by anyone on the face of the planet Earth. Apparently the goal is to put the chaplains harms way and unprotected so ISIS can have more Christian martyrs. The chaplains should file a lawsuit against MRFF for an attempt to endanger their welfare and lives.

  6. G

    “Mr. Weinstein, with all due respect, but the Taliban, Al-Queda and ISIS do not observe the Geneva Convention!! This is not WWII where the warring nations did observe it, but even then German soldiers would shoot at US medics.”

    YW, the Japanese and the Russians by and large did not care about the Geneva Conventions. BTW, you had British and Americans shooting POWs or not taking prisoners. There was an incident under Patton’s command in Sicily where 73 Axis POWs were gunned down. BTW, you probably had German medics killed in Normandy by Allied medium and heavy bombers when the Allies tried to blast through the German lines by using heavy bombers to wipe out the German positions.

    BTW, when you have an insurgency/guerilla warfare, regular soldiers are not bound by the Geneva Convention to take prisoners and the same can be said for insurgents/partisans.

    “As a military chaplain, I would rather go out a martyr for Christ, than to surrender willingly to Islamic terrorists who will chop off my head.”

    YW, why don’t you save the last bullet for yourself on the battlefield so the Islamic terrorists won’t have to chop your head off. Of course, if the terrorists chopped your head off after you are dead, you won’t feel a thing because you will be dead!!! Of course, you will probably be send to Hades because suicide is considered a sin in the Christian, and Jewish faith.

  7. G

    Retired, the chaplains put themselves in danger when they took the training. If they point guns at a someone, that someone is not going to have the time to determine whether that person is a chaplain or not. It is a question of you or I on the battlefield.

  8. G

    YW, i would advise to save the last bullet for yourself if you don’t want to surrender to the ISIS terrorists.

    The Japanese and Russians by and large did not observe the Geneva Conventions and in partisan warfare, both sides are not bound by the Conventions to take prisoners. In the book, Invasion They’re coming, regarding the Battle of Normandy, there was a German medic who had a sidearm due to his experience in Russia and the American prisoners asks his commanding officer if he could ask to medic to remove his sidearms since the Geneva Convention forbid medical personnel from carrying weapons. The German officer agreed to the request and the German medic stated that he hopes that the American Army knows that he is a medic and is unarmed. Sadly, the German medic was killed in an American bombing raid.

  9. G

    YW, it doesn’t matter whether terrorists chopped your head off if you are alive or dead. Either way you will be dead, so be prepare to meet God, (if he really exists).

  10. SgtCedar

    Yeshua Warrior:
    If I read your comment correctly you are not in the United States armed forces. If you were and served as a chaplain in the United States Army you would be required to obey the Uniform Code of Military Justice and Department of Defense and Department of the Army regulations.

    Chaplains in the Royal Navy and the Israeli Defense Forces are governed by their nations laws and military regulations. United States military personnel’s actions are not governed by the laws and regulations of those other nations. If you wish to operate by those policies please join the Royal Navy or the Israeli Defense Forces.

  11. SgtCedar

    Retired:
    If Army chaplains have any complaint about not being able to carry weapons their recourse is not to sue MRFF. Their recourse would be to try to get Army Regulation 165-1 changed by the Department of the Army.

    I am retired from the Army National Guard and am a Vietnam veteran. When I enlisted in 1966 and again in 1985 I swore to obey the UCMJ, military regulations, and the orders of my superiors. I am also a seminary graduate and have served as a hospital chaplain. I was working to be commissioned as an Army chaplain when I become disabled and was forced to retire.

    When a person enters the military as a chaplain and is commissioned as an officer he or she must obey the UCMJ, DoD and Army regulations, and the orders of superior officers. If a chaplain cannot serve without carrying a weapon, he or she should resign his or her commission and leave the US military.

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