The military code of conduct contains six articles expressing what members of the U.S. military forces should do if they are taken as prisoners of war by an enemy. Although it is not part of military law detailed in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, it is an ethical guideline on how American military personnel should endure captivity with honor.
Under the military code of conduct, U.S. soldiers, sailors or airmen are bound to give their lives to support the U.S. way of life and oppose its enemies. They should refuse the option of surrender as long as they are able to resist. They must always attempt to avoid capture. If captured, they must continue to resist the enemy and attempt an escape if possible. They should organize themselves under the senior officer and establish a chain of command. POWs should give no information to the enemy that would endanger other prisoners. When interrogated, they are required to give only name, rank, date of birth and service number. POWs are to maintain trust in God and the United States.
The military code of conduct was enacted after the Korean War, when after the return of POWs it became clear they had been subjected to brutal conditions, torture, deprivation and brainwashing through propaganda. A defense advisory committee drew up the code as a moral and legal guideline for conduct while in captivity. President Dwight Eisenhower made its implementation an executive order in August 1955.