United States: More information on conscientious objector numbers

A new report by the US Government Accountability Office gives more details about conscientious objectors in the USA. According to the report, which covers the period 2002-2006, of the 425 applications the different branches of the US military reported processing during 2002 through 2006, 224 (53 percent) were approved; 188 (44 percent) were denied; and 13 (3 percent) were pending, withdrawn, closed, or no information was provided.

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Total
Army 25 47 53 33 23 181
Army Reserve 2 8 14 9 3 36
Army National Guard 1 7 11 7 0 26
Navy 8 2 3 9 9 31
Navy Reserve 0 0 0 0 0 0
Air Force 2 15 10 12 6 45
Air Force Reserve 1 2 1 0 0 4
Air National Guard 1 1 0 1 2 5
Marine Corps 8 8 11 6 10 43
Marine Corps Reserve 7 21 14 5 3 50
Coast Guard 1 1 1 0 0 3
Coast Guard Reserve 0 1 0 0 0 1
Total 56 113 118 82 56 425

In calendar years 2002 through 2006, 81 percent of the applicants were enlisted males. In addition, the majority of male applicants were between the ages of 21 and 25. The occupational area for the majority of the applicants was general infantry (which includes weapons specialists and special forces, among others), and most of the applicants also had between 1 to 4 years of service.

Our review of component-provided data found that servicemembers who applied for conscientious objector status worked in a variety of occupational areas. The top five occupational areas for the 377 enlisted servicemembers for calendar years 2002 through 2006 were

  • general infantry, which includes weapons specialists, ground reconnaissance specialists, special forces, and military training nstructors, with 42 applicants;
  • other functional support, which includes supply accounting and procurement, transportation, flight operations, and related areas, with 16 applicants;
  • medical care and treatment, which includes surgical and therapy specialists, with 16 applicants;
  • security, which includes specialists who guard weapon systems, defend installations, and protect personnel, equipment, and facilities, with 14 applicants; and
  • combat engineering, which includes specialists in hasty and temporary construction of airfields, roads and bridges, and in demolition, field illumination, and chemical warfare, with 14 applicants.

Source: United States Government Accountability Office, GAO-07-1196, September 2007