RELIGIOUS SUPPORT FOUNDATIONS
On June 14, 1775, the 2nd Continental Congress established by resolution the American Continental Army authorizing ten companies of expert riflemen to support the American Revolution. In July of 1775, the Continental Congress provided for the appointment and pay of chaplains for the Army. That appointment provided the Army with a dedicated and intentional means to support the religious needs of the American Soldier fighting for our nation’s freedom and forever linked the chaplaincy with the operational mission of the U.S. Army. (FM 1-05, 1-1)
At every echelon of the force, the chaplaincy is the Army’s primary agency for ensuring the right to free exercise of religion for Soldiers on behalf of the commander. The chaplains and chaplain assistants, from the Chief of Chaplains down to battalion UMTs, fulfill this core and essential responsibility. Based upon the requirements of the operational mission, a Soldier exercises this right in a number of ways to include: (FM 1-05, 1-4)
- Worshipping according to one’s faith.
- Seeking religious counsel and care.
- Keeping holy days and observances.
- Participating in rites, sacraments, and ordinances.
- Practicing dietary laws.
The mission of the Army Chaplain Corps is to provide religious support to the Army across unified land operations by assisting the commander in providing for the free exercise of religion and providing religious, moral, and ethical leadership. (FM 1-05, 1-5)
CHAPLAIN CORPS CAPABILITIES
The Army requires the capability to provide religious support and the capability to advise commanders on the impact of religion. These two required capabilities reflect the dual role of the Chaplain Corps: religious leader and religious staff advisor. (AR 165-1, 2-3, b)
- As a professional military religious leader, the chaplain must have the capability to perform or provide religious support that accommodates the Soldier’s right to the free. (AR 165-1, 2-3, b1)
- As the professional military religious staff advisor, the chaplain advises the commander and staff on morals, morale, ethical issues, and the impact of religion on all aspects of military operations. (AR 165-1, 2-3, b2)
RELIGIOUS SUPPORT CORE COMPETENCIES
Within the two required capabilities, chaplains fulfill three basic core competencies. These three competencies provide the fundamental focus and direction as the Chaplain Corps executes its mission of ensuring the right to free exercise of religion for Soldiers: (FM 1-05, 1-16)
- Nurture the Living. In preparation for missions that span the range of military operations and during the execution of those missions, chaplains and chaplain assistants develop and execute a religious support plan (RSP) that seeks to strengthen and sustain Soldiers and Family Members.
- Care for the Wounded. During the execution of decisive action, chaplains and chaplain assistants bring hope and strength to those who have been wounded and traumatized in body, mind, and spirit, by assisting in the healing process. Chaplains and chaplain assistants also provide religious support, pastoral care, comfort, and hope to the dying. Through prayer and presence, the chaplain section or UMT provides the Soldier with courage and comfort in the face of death.
- Honor the Fallen. Our nation reveres those who have died in military service. Religious support honors the dead. Memorial ceremonies, services, and funerals reflect the emphasis the American people place on the worth and value of the individual. Chaplains conduct these services and ceremonies, fulfilling a vital role in rendering tribute to America’s sons and daughters who paid the ultimate price serving the nation in the defense of freedom.
RELIGIOUS SUPPORT FUNCTIONS
Commanders provide opportunities for the free exercise of religion through their chaplains and chaplain assistants. The chaplain sections or UMTs provide religious support by executing specific functions. Commanders expect chaplains and chaplain assistants to understand the tasks associated with these functions. A partial, descriptive list of the religious support functions a chaplain section or UMT may use to accomplish the operational religious support mission includes: (FM 1-05, 1-17)
- Advising the command on religion, morals, morale, and ethical issues.
- Leadership of religious worship.
- Administration of religious rites, sacraments, and ordinances.
- Provision of pastoral care and counseling.
- Teaching and management of religious education.
- Family-life ministry (division/expeditionary support command (ESC)).
- Provision of professional support to the command and staff.
- Management and administration of personnel, facilities, and funds necessary to the religious support mission.
- Liaison with local or host-nation religious leaders as directed by the commander.
- Conduct of religious support planning, training, and operations.