Chaplain Assistant

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In the US Army Chaplain Corps, Chaplain Assistants provide support to Chaplains. A Chaplain Assistant is part of the Unit Ministry Team (UMT) and supports UMT programs including worship services. Additionally, since Chaplains are non-combatants, the Chaplain Assistant provides force protection for Chaplains in combat environments.


Regarding the centennial of Army chaplain assistants, see footnote.[1]

The specialty position was established on December 28, 1909, pursuant to General Orders No. 253.[2]


Duties performed by the Chaplain Assistant include:

  • Coordinating Unit Ministry Team activities
  • Maintaining physical security of Unit Ministry Team facilities/equipment
  • Safeguarding privileged communications and offerings
  • Arranging religious retreats and memorial ceremonies
  • Supporting the Unit Ministry Team readiness program
  • Maintaining chaplain vestments and religious items
  • Ensure worshippers are comfortable in their religious surroundings

Essentially, a Chaplain Assistant, or 56M (in the US Army), is the "how" in religious accommodation in both a peacetime setting as well as in a combat environment. In a combat environment, however, the Chaplain Assistant's job becomes much more vital to the needs in the Army. The Chaplain himself/herself is not a combatant, meaning s/he is restricted from bearing arms. The Chaplain Assistant, as the only combatant in the UMT,[3] is to apply force protection. He does this because of the vital role of the Chaplain in a combat environment: the Chaplain is to support not only the religious welfare of the unit, but also the overall morale of the troops, which is a key issue in any combat environment.

Contribution to Religious Support[edit]

Chaplain assistants provide diversity to the Unit Ministry Team. Because chaplains are commissioned officers, enlisted personnel may feel more comfortable approaching the enlisted chaplain assistant with a personal issue. In addition, because chaplains are non-combatants and are unauthorized to bear arms, most chaplains do not have combat experience like enlisted personnel usually do. The chaplain assistant allows troubled soldiers the option of confiding in someone who can offer empathy to soldiers facing issues relating to combat or deployments.


See footnote[4]

Army Chaplain Assistants begin their training after successful completion of Army Basic Combat Training, which lasts 10 weeks. 56M AIT (Advanced Individual Training) lasts 8 weeks Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, at USACHCS (United States Army Chaplain Center and School).

U.S. Military Academy[edit]

For chaplain assistants at USMA, see footnote.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stevens, Larry (U.S. Army Forces Command HQ) (January 12, 2010). "Chaplain Corps celebrates centennial of enlisted assistant support". Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  2. ^ Go to Chaplaincy History & Museum Archived March 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. and scroll down to the section entitled "The Chaplain Assistant". US Army Chaplain Corps (United States Army Chaplaincy official homepage). Retrieved 2010-03-04.
  3. ^ In July 2010, a chaplain's assistant — Staff Sgt. Christopher Stout, of Worthville, Kentucky — was killed during the Afghanistan War. "Army: Chaplain is 1st killed in action since '70: Captain based at Fort Carson, Colo., had hitched ride on supply convoy". NBC News ( September 2, 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-02. 
  4. ^ Proponency Archived March 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. (United States Army Chaplaincy official homepage). Retrieved 2010-03-04.
  5. ^ Go to Office of the USMA Chaplain and click on "Chaplain Assistants" in left-hand column. USMA website. Retrieved 2010-03-04.

External links[edit]