Fact Sheet: The Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations

What it is: The U.S. Army produces various field manuals that set out rules and provide training material for Army personnel. The Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations is intended to aid interrogators and provide guidelines on effective interrogation techniques that comply with international and U.S. law.

What it allows: The Army Field Manual (AFM) on Human Intelligence Collector Operations outlines 19 approaches that interrogators may use to elicit information from detainees held in U.S. custody. The approaches are based on building rapport with the detainee and inducing cooperation through incentives.

What it prevents: The Army Field Manual specifically prohibits most of the so-called “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” that the CIA used in its post-9/11 interrogation program, as well as any other techniques that do not comply with domestic or international law. Specifically, it does not allow waterboarding; nudity or forced sexual acts or poses; hooding or blindfolding; beating; electric shocks; causing physical pain; the use of dogs; inducing hypothermia or heat injury; mock executions; deprivation of food, water, or medical care; or interrogators posing as doctors, ICRC representatives, members of the clergy, journalists, or members of congress.

 Who it applies to: Under the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, the Army Field Manual applies to any interrogation operations conducted by the military, or at military facilities. The AFM requirements were extended beyond the military to become the standard across all government agencies and departments pursuant to Executive Order 13491, “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations,” issued by President Obama on January 22, 2009. The McCain-Feinstein amendment would codify into federal law the AFM as the single, government-wide standard for interrogations. FBI interrogators and other law enforcement agents are also permitted to use other authorized, non-coercive law enforcement interrogation techniques.

Should it be updated? The AFM requires periodic updates to ensure that all the approaches within it are lawful and humane, and reflect the most up-to-date science and best practices on effective interrogation. The McCain-Feinstein amendment would mandate such periodic review and updates.

Fact Sheets

Published on June 11, 2015


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