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Chapter 13

Religious Support

Chaplains, on behalf of the commander, provide and perform religious support (RS) in the Army to ensure the free exercise of religion. Chaplains are obligated to provide for those religious services or practices that they cannot personally perform. Chaplains perform religious support when their actions are in accordance with the tenets or beliefs of their faith group. Chaplain assistants assist the chaplain in providing or performing this religious support.

The First Amendment guarantees every American the right to the free exercise of religion. Title 10 requires the military to ensure that right to military personnel. The Army implements this requirement in AR 165-1. Religious support operations ensure those rights of free exercise of religion to the soldier, family members, and authorized civilians. This includes religious services, rites, sacraments, ordinances, pastoral care, religious education, family life ministry, institutional ministry, professional support to the command and staff, management and administration, religious/humanitarian support, religious support planning/operations and religious support training. Religious support also includes advice to the command on matters of religion, morals, morale, and the coordination with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and private voluntary organizations (PVOs), as appropriate. FM 1-05 and JP 1-05 provide detailed discussions of religious support.


Religious Support Functions
Religious Support Across the Levels of War
Unit Religious Support
Transportation and Information Systems




13-1. Comprehensive religious support includes the following three major functions.



13-2. In preparation for missions that span the full spectrum of operations, unit ministry teams (UMTs) develop and provide religious support activities to strengthen and sustain the spiritual resilience of soldiers and family members. During the battle UMTs bring hope and strength to those who have been wounded and traumatized in body, mind, and spirit assisting the healing process.



13-3. UMTs provide religious support, spiritual care, comfort, and hope to the dying. This focus of religious support affirms the sanctity of life, which is at the heart of the chaplaincy. Through prayer and presence the UMT provides the soldier with courage and comfort in the face of death.



13-4. Our nation reveres those who have died in military service. Religious support honors the dead. Funerals, memorial services, and ceremonies reflect the emphasis our 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 for their nation.




13-5. Religious support planning and management at the strategic level considers force-tailoring UMTs to perform and provide religious support for all types and sizes of forces in all contingencies. The senior Army chaplain in theater provides staff supervision over all Army religious support in the theater and is responsible for recommending religious support policy to the commander of the Army service component command (ASCC). Installation chaplains and their staffs provide seamless religious support across all levels of war via information systems.



13-6. The ARFOR chaplain supports the ARFOR commander's operational-level responsibilities and roles by-

  • Establishing links with joint, multinational, interagency, NGOs, PVOs, and religious leaders of the host nation.
  • Planning and executing religious support for corps operations.
  • Monitoring religious support in major subordinate commands.
  • Executing support operations to sustain subordinate Army forces.

13-7. Religious support is tailored to the operation when the division is designated as an ARFOR or as part of a joint task force (JTF).



13-8. The UMT is embedded within and provides religious support to combat, CS, and CSS units at the battalion, squadron, brigade, regiment, and division; this includes specialized and special operations units like the Rangers and special forces.



13-9. Unit religious support is provided in the following three ways:

  • Unit support. Support provided to the unit to which the UMT is assigned or attached. The team normally gives first priority to this mission.
  • Area support. Support provided to soldiers, members of other services, and authorized civilians who are not a part of the team's unit, but operate within the supporting unit area of operations (AO).
  • Denominational support. Support given to soldiers and other authorized persons of the chaplain's denomination or distinctive faith group. Limited assets affect the availability of denominational support.



13-10. The chaplain is a personal staff officer responsible for coordinating the religious assets and operations within the command. The chaplain is a confidential advisor to the commander for religious matters. A chaplain is located at every echelon of command from battalion through corps to ASCC. Select chaplains from the various services also serve on the joint personal staffs of combatant commanders and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

13-11. As a personal staff officer, the chaplain works for the commander, advises the commander, and executes the commander's religious support program on his behalf. The UMT coordinates the execution of the commander's religious support program with the chief of staff or executive officer. The team plans cooperatively with all staff sections for the exchange of information. As a result of dispersion, UMTs also need to synchronize religious support within their subordinate units. Establishing synchronization procedures with subordinate commanders, command sergeants major, and first sergeants before deployment reduces the communication challenge for the UMT.



13-12. The chaplain participates in the military decisionmaking process, developing the religious support estimate (RSE) that becomes the basis for the religious support plan (RSP). Development of the RSE ensures the careful and intentional planning of religious support.

13-13. To meet the religious needs of soldiers and other authorized personnel in all operations, the UMT prepares a comprehensive RSP that is staffed and integrated into every operational phase. The UMT advises the commander on the plan for accomplishing the religious support mission. The plan encompasses RS required from training and mobilization through redeployment and demobilization.



13-14. Title 10 USC 3547 mandates transportation assets are afforded to the chaplain for conducting religious services. This is especially necessary for the UMT assigned to a heavy or mounted unit.

13-15. As the UMT travels throughout the AO, they must maintain communications with their assigned headquarters to keep the commander informed of their status, location, and travel plans. At the same time, the team receives and transmits situation reports. The commander provides the team with dedicated communications equipment that is compatible with the unit secure communication equipment.

13-16. Religious support is synchronized and implemented throughout the AO, theater of operations, and communications zone (COMMZ) by full UMT integration into the information systems of the unit. The ability to reach back from the area of operations to the home station is essential for relaying time-sensitive information and religious support requests. A mobile communication link between echelons enables UMTs to communicate time-sensitive data rapidly to and from each echelon. This is essential for the UMT's mission to provide soldiers with the personal delivery of religious support. This link provides UMTs immediate access to critical information needed to ensure the commander's religious support plan is executed successfully. For more information, see FM 1-05.


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