Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have challenged commanders and operational planners to develop the necessary skills to function effectively in a region where nearly every city, town and province contains religious and historical monuments, archaeological sites or cultural property that are subject to protection under The 1954 Hague Convention.
Military doctrine requires us to respect and safeguard cultural property because it represents the heritage of indigenous populations and, by extension, all humanity.
This doctrine is founded upon:
• Department of Defense Law of War Program Directive 2311.01E
(9 May 2006);
• law of war rules specified in Field Manual 27-10, The Law of Land
• international law, treaties and conventions to which the United
States is party, such as The 1954 Hague Convention for the
Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
The most immediate application of this doctrine is contained in:
• General Order 1A, which provides specific instructions for
respecting and protecting cultural, historical and religious sites,
monuments and other immoveable and moveable property, which
all USCENTCOM personnel must follow.
Any violation of General Order 1A by USCENTCOM
personnel constitutes a Prohibited Activity and is thus
forbidden. Click here for more details.
Military doctrine on the protection of cultural property meets the requirements of international law, is an expression of our national values, and serves as a force multiplier, which supports the mission.
Respecting cultural property while operating in theater can win hearts and minds among local populations by sending the message that U.S. forces are the most professional, law-abiding and respectful fighting force in the world.
To achieve these objectives, all USCENTCOM personnel engaged in military or contingency operations within the USCENTCOM AOR must:
• respect and follow the instructions found in General
• become familiar with the theory and rationale that
support our decision to respect and protect cultural
property while operating in theater;
• learn about the cultural heritage of nations in which we
• review all of the recommendations and guidance described
in this online training
• for personnel engaged in contingency operations, review
Chapter 6 ("Historical and Cultural Preservation") of
CENTCOM Regulation 200-2 ("CENTCOM Contingency
Environmental Guidance"). Chapter 6 lays out criteria for
proper protection of historical and/or cultural resources within
USCENTCOM AOR countries engaged in contingency operations.
Following these guidelines will help commanders, war planners and service personnel acquire the necessary awareness and skill set to "do no harm" while operating in theater.