Proximity Principle: Army Chaplains on the Fighting Line in Doctrine and History   [open pdf - 2MB]

This document is from the "Art of War Papers" series. From the Abstract: "The first official US Army chaplain doctrine appeared in 1926 and contained this guidance: 'The duty of the chaplain lies with the men of his command who are on the fighting line.' This guidance reflected a principle of proximity - that is, chaplains minister wherever their soldiers are found, up to and including during direct ground combat. The primary argument of this thesis is that this proximity principle - both in chaplain history and chaplain doctrine - has been a dominant theme of the Army chaplain's ministry. The 1926 fighting line verbiage and concept codified what chaplains had habitually practiced up to that time. Indeed, a broad analysis of literature written by chaplains prior to 1926 and lessons learned by chaplains during the First World War demonstrates that the 1926 doctrine accurately codified a timeless and enduring principle. In addition, a survey of chaplain doctrine since 1926 shows that the proximity principle has consistently remained a part of official Army chaplain ministry. Furthermore, a historical survey of select chaplains in ground combat since 1926 demonstrates that the proximity principle remains a timeless and highly effective form of Army chaplain ministry, whose most ardent practitioners are held up as exemplars for current and future chaplains."

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US Army Combined Arms Center: http://www.usacac.army.mil/
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