The Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild has published critical legal information for US servicemembers concerned about the legality and morality of deployment to and orders about the Middle East and war against Iran. Written by attorneys James M. Branum and Jeff Lake, along with MLTF Executive Director Kathleen Gilberd.

Thinking about Unlawful Orders

The Trump Administration’s threats of war in the Middle East raise serious legal and ethical questions for military servicemembers.

The Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild shares the concerns of organizations such as Veterans For Peace, Courage to Resist, and others, that US servicemembers may be given illegal orders or face real conflicts with their moral, political or religious beliefs about war in the Middle East. We are troubled about the lack of effective legal alternatives for servicemembers dealing with possible illegal orders and believe it is essential that members of the military are fully informed about their rights and responsibilities under the law. We are also concerned that servicemembers are given almost no information about options available to them under military regulations to avoid or return early from deployment. In this memorandum, we will discuss briefly some the legal challenges that a servicemember might face when deciding whether to disobey a possibly illegal order, and other options for those who oppose deployment to the Middle East.


  • The Definition of an Unlawful Order
  • Who can make the judgment call as to what is and isn’t “lawful”?
  • The question of the legality of military deployments to the Middle East
  • What should servicemembers do?
  • Other Options

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