Army chaplains provide for the spiritual needs of Army personnel of any denomination. Chaplain Assistants provide much-needed support to the Chaplains during missions and everyday activities. A Chaplain Assistant primarily provides support for the Unit Ministry Team (UMT) programs and worship services.
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, is the 'how' in religious accommodation in both the peacetime setting as well as in a combat environment. However, once in a combat environment, the Chaplain Assistant's job becomes much more vital to the needs in the Army. The Chaplain himself/herself is not a combatant, meaning they are restricted from bearing arms. The Chaplain Assistant is the only combatant in the UMT, his primary job is to apply force protection, which he does in the role of acting as the chaplains bodyguard. He does this because of the vitality of the Chaplain in combat. The Chaplain's role is vital to support not only the religious wellfare of the unit, but also the overall morale of the troops, which is a key issue in any combat environment.
Army Chaplain Assistants begin their training after successful completion of Army Basic Combat Training, which lasts 9 weeks. 56M AIT (Advanced Individual Training) lasts 7 weeks in Ft. Jackson, South Carolina.
The first Pit was hidden beneath the Army's chaplains' assistants school, and the Pit III was called a chaplains assistants supply depot.
Wildcard is trained as a chaplain assistant.
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