Conscientious Objectors:

Number of Applications Remained Small During the Persian Gulf War

NSIAD-94-35: Published: Nov 9, 1993. Publicly Released: Dec 9, 1993.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) handling of conscientious objector applications from armed forces members, focusing on the: (1) number of applications and approval rates for fiscal year (FY) 1988 through FY 1991, particularly during the time of the Persian Gulf War; (2) impact of the number of applications on readiness; (3) applicants' characteristics; and (4) military services' procedures for processing conscientious objectors' applications.

GAO found that: (1) DOD processed about 200 conscientious objector applications annually and approved 80 to 85 percent of them from FY 1988 through 1990; (2) DOD processed 447 applications and approved 61 percent of them during the Persian Gulf War; (3) in FY 1992, the number of applications and approval rate returned to near prewar levels; (4) most of the applications in FY 1991 came from Army and Marine Corps members; (5) the number of conscientious objector applications had no impact on combat readiness and was insignificant compared to the number of members in uniform and deployed during the Persian Gulf War; (6) DOD deployed 110 applicants to the Persian Gulf pending resolution of their applications; (7) most applicants were white male enlisted personnel under the age of 30 in combat or support occupational specialties; (8) the basic steps for processing conscientious objector applications include the appointment of an investigating officer, interviews with a chaplain and a psychiatrist, a hearing, preparation of a report by the investigating officer, and the submission of the report through the chain of command; (9) the military services' approval processes and discharge options vary due to their implementing regulations; and (10) application processing times range from 1 month to 4 years and average about 6 months.

Jun 25, 2020

Jun 23, 2020

Jun 18, 2020

Jun 16, 2020

Jun 3, 2020

May 29, 2020

May 22, 2020

May 19, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here