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Re: Conscientious Objector
I'm a little confused about armed medics, the legal situation I mean, though
I take the point about preservation of life taking precedence over legality
in some practical circumstances.
My understanding was that the 1949 Geneva Convention (which went into effect
Oct. 1950) specifically allows medical personnel to be armed with certain
restrictions. That's certainly the international law now. For example Army
FM on the subject describe the restrictions, as for example don't fire on
the enemy to stop his advance on your position, but if he's firing
specifcially at you, you can fire back, etc. And armed-to-the-teeth medics
appear in offiicial combat photo's in more recent wars (UK, Falklands for
But I thought those provisions were a modification to earlier Conventions
that prohibited armed medics. I was also under the impression that the
official position of the Army in WWII was no arms in the ETO because the
opponents had signed the then current Convention but yes v. the Japanese
because they hadn't. If not true the foregoing is at least a very widesperad
misconception. One sees mentioned in first hand accounts (for example WWII
ETO medics who armed themselves though thinking it was technically illegal).
Anway KW question is what was the official policy I wonder and whether it
actually changed when the new convention came into effect or not because NK
hadn't signed the old one. And I guess all this didn't apply to
conscientious objectors of the category "serve but not take up arms". For
what little it's worth Hollywood seems always to depict medics as unarmed.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Marc James Small" <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 12:53 PM
Subject: Re: Conscientious Objector
At 09:29 PM 9/1/02 EDT, AMPSOne@aol.com wrote:
>the Laws of Land Warfare are not supposed to be targets, but they also are
>not supposed to carry any arms or provide weapons and ammunition to other
>soldiers. A medic in Korea -- the type described as removing wounded and
>dead from the battlefield in Korea -- would be typical. A number of medics
>have been awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism under fire, so simply not
>carrying arms does not mean that they carried any stigma for objecting.
Since 1940, the US has required its medical personnel to be armed. The
medics in every unit in which I served certainly were armed, and did their
qualification firings with the rest of us. There are repetitive tales from
WWII, Korea, and Viet-Nam of medical personnel fighting to preserve the
lives of their patients. I recognize the logical disconnect in all of this
but, trust me, the US Army mandates that its doctors qualify on their basic
weapon and carry such into a combat zone. (The highest performer in my
Dad's CA (AA) Regiment in 1941, incidentally, was the Regimental Surgeon,
an avid hunter. I encountered the same in 1981 in the 329th Spt Gp in the
VaARNG, where our doc routinely outshot the rifle team.)
In a similar vein, Chaplains are exempt from qualifying on their basic
weapons but Chaplain's Assistants are not. I had a number of friends who
served in Viet-Nam as such, and all were armed and, in at least several
cases, saved their Chaplain's lives as a result.
Fire superiority saves lives. Compassionate nonsense costs lives.
firstname.lastname@example.org FAX: +276/343-7315
Cha robh bąs fir gun ghrąs fir!