U.S. Army on Identification of Deceased Personnel

05.15.07 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The identification of deceased military and civilian personnel killed on or around the battlefield is one of the grim functions routinely performed in wartime.

It is so grim, in fact, that the U.S. Army decided it should be shielded from public awareness.

A U.S. Army Field Manual on “Identification of Deceased Personnel” (large pdf) was not supposed to be made publicly available. The manual is not classified, nor does it impinge on personal privacy. It is rather less graphic than a typical medical school anatomy textbook. But to the Army, it is still not suitable for public consumption.

The cover page says it should be destroyed by any method that will “prevent disclosure of contents or reconstruction of the document.”

“This [manual] begins with discussions of basic gross human anatomy, antemortem and perimortem trauma, human osteology, and dental anatomy and morphology. These chapters provide the mortuary affairs specialist with the basic knowledge to proficiently assist human identification experts (such as the forensic pathologist, medical examiner, forensic odontologist, and forensic anthropologist) with identifying human remains.”

A copy of the proscribed manual was obtained by Secrecy News. Thanks to Entropic Memes.

See “Identification of Deceased Personnel,” U.S. Army Field Manual 4-20.65, July 2005 (220 pages in a very large 32 MB PDF file).