United States Department of Defence; Interim Regulations for Condolence or Sympathy Payments to Friendly Civilians for Injury or Loss That Is Incident to Military Operations

In June 2020, the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum that provided interim regulations on the use of condolence and solatia payments to civilians in the event of property damage, personal injury or death that is incidental to the use of force by U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. coalitions, or military forces supporting the U.S. or such coalition.

The U.S. Department of Defense categorises condolence payments as an expression of sympathy for death, injury or property damage that is incident to the use of force by the U.S. armed forces. Condolence payments are a gesture of goodwill intended to maintain friendly relations with and to obtain the support of the local population. As such, they are not an admission of fault by the U.S. government.

The 9 May 2007 Guidance, issued by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), establishes that Commanders’ Emergency Response Program CERP funds can be used for condolence payments to individual civilians for the death or physical injury and for the reparation of property damage caused by U.S. military operations and, thus, not compensable under the Foreign Claims Act. CERP enables U.S. commanders to respond to urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction needs and is only meant for small-scale projects that will immediately benefit the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.  In this respect, condolence payments are distinct from solatia payments, which are made from local operation and maintenance funds in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations § 536.145. Official documents deem these token or nominal payments an expression of remorse or sympathy.

While solatia payments have been authorized in Afghanistan since October 2005, condolence payments have been made since November 2005.

See also:

2007 U.S. Department of Defense – Commanders’ Emergency Response Program Guidance

2007 Government Accountability Office – The department of Defense’s Use of Solatia and Condolence Payments in Iraq and Afghanistan