Version 1 / 4min read / Updated Fri 23 Jul 2021 / 723 views
Enemy captives and detainees
The terms "captives" and "detainees" are used here instead of "prisoners of war" because the laws apply to all persons who come under your control in combat. All detained persons immediately shall be given humanitarian care and treatment. There is never a military necessity exception to violate these principles.
Let enemy soldiers surrender
You do not have to kill the enemy to accomplish your mission. Enemy soldiers may reach the point where they would rather surrender than fight. They may signal to you by waving a white flag, by crawling from their positions with arms raised, or by yelling at you to stop firing so that they can give up. The way they signal their desire to surrender may vary, but you must allow them to give up once you receive the signal.
It is illegal to fire on enemy soldiers who have thrown down or holstered their weapons and offered to surrender. Once enemy soldiers surrender to you, they are under your control. Their safety is your responsibility until you are relieved of them. Enemy soldiers who surrender are a source of valuable information. Moreover, other enemy soldiers may surrender if they see how well you treat captives.
Who can be detained
The decision to detain a person is usually made for the purposes of unit safety of the safety of non-combatants in the area-of-operations. Any person is capable of detaining a non-combatant for the purpose of questioning or a search. Only noncommissioned officers and officers can detain, or authorize the detention of enemy soldiers or interdependent military personnel or local police (or other armed personnel).
Treat all captives and detainees with respect
When you capture enemy soldiers or detain any noncombatants or civilians during combat, you must treat them according to the laws of war. This includes civilians, whether organized guerrillas or local inhabitants, who commit combat acts against you in support of the enemy. Often nonmilitary personnel such as journalists, Red Cross workers, or civilian laborers accompany enemy forces.
Processing of captives and detainees
Process detainees using the “search, silence, speed, safeguard", (4 Ss) technique. The steps of this process are described as follows:
Search: Neutralize a detainee and confiscate weapons, personal items, and items of potential intelligence or evidentiary value.
Silence: Prevent detainees from communicating with one another or making audible clamor such as chanting, singing, or praying. Silence uncooperative detainees by muffling them
Safeguard: Soldiers must safeguard detainees from combat risk, harm caused by other detainees, and improper treatment or care. Report all injuries. Acts, omissions or both that constitute inhumane treatment are violations of the law of war. If a violation is ongoing, a Soldier has an obligation to stop the violation and report it.
Speed: to a safe area/rear. Quickly move detainees from the continuing risks associated with other combatants or sympathizers who still may be in the area of capture. If there are more detainees than the Soldiers can control, call for additional support, search the detainees, and hold them in place until reinforcements arrive. Evacuate detainees from the battlefield to a holding area or facility as soon as possible. Transfer captured documents and other property to the forces assuming responsibility of the detainees.
Soldiers capturing equipment, documents, and detainees should report the capture immediately. Detainees are allowed to keep protective equipment such as headware and bulletproof vests.
Civilians and private property
Do not strengthen the enemy's will to fight by needlessly ravaging private property and terrorizing civilians. Know and obey the common-sense laws regarding the treatment of civilians and private property. It may be difficult to understand the rage and anguish of seeing personal property destroyed and personal rights abused. Unnecessary destruction of property and inhumane treatment of civilians are violations of the law of war.
Ensure the safety of civilians
It is lawful to move or resettle civilians if it is urgently required for military reasons, such as clearing a combat zone. In any circumstances where civilians are in danger due to immediate military activitIes, you should take action to ensure their safety. Whenever the military situation necessitates moving or evacuating civilians, remember to use common sense.
UNITAF Standard Operating procedures (SOP) are adapted primarly from US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Our written and audio procedures are a combination of the following primary source materials, as well as our own learnings, modifications and adaptations:
- US Army Techniques Publication, Infantry Platoon and Squad (ATP 3-21.8)
- Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks Warrior Leader Skills Level 2, 3, and 4 (STP 21-24-SMCT)
- The Warrior Ethos and Soldier Combat Skills (FM 3-21.75 / FM 21-75)
- Leadership Development (FM 6-22)
- Dyslexi's Tactics, Techniques, & Procedures for Arma 3 (TTP3)