Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “army background and tools”

Official Department of the Army Publications and Forms

Official Department of the Army Publications and Forms  – http://armypubs.army.mil

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What are the penalties for adultery?
  • Where would I find commendations for individual soldiers?
  • How are US Army soldiers expected to deal with hostile civilians?


This site is divided to several sections: Administrative, Multi-service titles, EForms, Technical and Equipment, Doctrine and Training, Engineering and Medical. Much of the material outside of the “Administrative Section” appears to locked behind password authorization, despite the fact that a number of relatively recent army manuals and publications are available in Federal Depository Libraries.

You can view titles and army document numbers to documents. It will be worthwhile to copy and paste the document number into your favorite search engine. Use quotes. For example, searching “FM 3-01.80” quickly brought up several places where this Visual Aircraft Recognition Guide could be viewed. Another title worth searching for is Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks, Level 1, STP 21-1-SMCT that covers first aid, survival skills, weapons use, communications and basic engagement with hostile civilians. In this case, the 2009 edition was available. Not the latest available, but enough for good story research.

Two items that are accessible through the Administrative section (under Publications in the menu) will likely be of interest to writers:

General Orders – The “General Orders” are listed by year from 1947 to the present and seem to chiefly concern unit realignments and individual and unit awards. Awards of Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze and Silver Stars and Medal of Honor have a few paragraphs explaining the award, which make for gripping reading. A few examples are Tech Sergeant Eugene J. Bigda, awarded Distinguished Service Cross in 1948 General Order 4 for service rendered on 28 May 1945 in Okinawa and Staff Sergeant Hilliard Carter, awarded for Distinguished Service Cross in 2005 General Order 9 for service (sacrifice, really) rendered on 28 September 1966 in Vietnam. General orders are also used to revoke awards, but reasons for doing so are not included.

Manual for Courts-Martial – This is actually a joint services manual, so it can be used to put any US military character on trial. This dictates procedures far beyond the military court procedure itself, also speaking to jurisdictional matters and who has standing to bring charges rules for the investigation, and under what circumstances a service member can be confined prior to his or her courts-martial. This 981 page guide has an extensive index, which includes an entry for “wrong cohabitation”, which is defined on page 404 of the PDF file under “Article 134—(Cohabitation, wrongful)”.


U.S. Army Field Manuals, Training Circulars, Technical Manuals, War Department/Department of the Army Pamphlets

U.S. Army Field Manuals, Training Circulars, Technical Manuals, War Department/Department of the Army Pamphlets – http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/manuals.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What was the procedure for military executions developed in 1944?
  • What was the “US Fighting Man’s Code” that fighters in VietNam would have been expected to follow?
  • What is the procedure to be followed in an Article 32(b) investigation?
  • What are some ways to avoid surrender that don’t involve fighting to the death?
  • What are the current rules for court-martial trials?


From the website,

“The full text of selected U.S. Army Field Manuals (FMs), Training Circulars (TCs), and Technical Manuals (TMs), War Department Pamphlets (WD PAMs) and Department of the Army Pamphlets (DA PAMs), which particularly address some of the current research needs and interests of The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center & School Library, U.S. Army, Charlottesville, Virginia , will be added regularly to this site.”

Another good source for US Army Field Manuals is the Internet Archives US Military Manual Collection.

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