The somber duties associated with official reporting of U.S. Army casualties, including notification of survivors, are spelled out in exhaustive detail in a new Army regulation (pdf).
“Generally, casualty matters are unclassified,” the regulation states (obliquely admitting the possibility of classified casualties), “but they are assigned the protective marking of For Official Use Only” until after notification of next of kin.
The new regulation provides “notification scripts” for use in informing family members of their loss in various circumstances including, for example, suspected friendly fire cases:
“The Secretary of the Army has asked me to express his deep regret that your (relationship) (died/was killed in action) in (country) on (date). (State the circumstances). His/her death is a result of suspected friendly fire. A formal investigation is being conducted….”
“The CNO [casualty notification officer] will internalize the script … before proceeding to make notification and will relay the information orally and in person in a calm and sensitive manner to the person being notified,” the regulation states.
“The CNO team members should not have alcohol on their breath or be inebriated.”
See “Army Casualty Program,” Army Regulation AR 600-8-1, February 28, 2007.