Army Article 15: 17 Things you Should Know

Today, I want to take a few moments and educate you about Article 15s in the Army.  My goal is to give you some basic fundamental knowledge about what they are, how they work, and what you should know.

Please know upfront that I am NOT a JAG Officer or lawyer.  I’m writing from my own experience as a Company Commander and from the information I found in the Uniform Code of Military Justice and AR 27-10.

This information is designed to give you a basic overview.  If you have specific questions, please consult with JAG.

# 1 An Article 15 is a non-judicial form of punishment.

# 2 The Article 15 allows commanders to maintain discipline and good order in their units without a courts-martial.

# 3 Only commanders or officers with command authority can administer Article 15’s.

# 4 Commanders are responsible to do their own investigation and have proof that the Soldier is guilty of the accused crime, before they decide to administer an Article 15.

# 5 There are three types of Article 15’s: summarized, company grade and field grade.

# 6 The summarized Article 15 is the most common and most basic type of Article 15.  The maximum punishment for this type of Article 15 can include up to 14 days or restriction and 14 days of extra duty. If restriction and extra duty are given, they must both be done at the same time.

# 7 The Company Grade Article 15 can include 14 days of restriction, 14 days of extra duty, 7 days of pay forfeiture and one rank reduction.  If restriction and extra duty are given, they must both be done at the same time.  Also, pay forfeiture, extra duty and restriction may be all or partially suspended.

# 8 The Field Grade Article 15 is done by a Field Grade Officer in the rank of Major or above.  In most cases, it’s done by the Battalion Commander or Brigade Commander.  Soldiers can receive up to 60 days of restriction, 45 days of extra duty, ½ month’s pay forfeiture for two months, a reduction of one or more grades (for E-4 or below) or a reduction of one rank for E-5 and E-6 level NCOs.

# 9 Summarized Article 15’s are stored at the local JAG Office for two years, or until the Soldier leaves the unit (whichever happens first).

# 10 Company and Field Grade Article 15’s can be filed in the Soldiers official file, but the commander administering the Article 15 can make the determination to not have it filed (or to file it).

# 11 Soldiers may present evidence at Article 15 hearings.

# 12 Soldiers have the right to refuse non-judicial punishment (Article 15) in favor of a courts-martial.

# 13 No lawyers (JAG) are involved in the Article 15 hearing, but the accused have the right to consult with a lawyer before the hearing.

# 14 There is no prosecutor at the Article 15.

# 15 Soldiers have the right to appeal the decision in their Article 15 to the next higher level of command within five days. The higher command can overturn or reduce the punishment, but they can’t increase it.

# 16 To the best of my knowledge a commissioned officer or Warrant Officer cannot receive an Article 15 (please correct me if I am wrong).

# 17 An Article 15 is not a conviction and will not appear on your civilian record.

Tips for Commanders

I would like to add in a few tips for commanders to think about before they administer an Article 15 (please keep in mind I am not JAG).

  • Don’t let your emotions get the best of you; wait to you cool off to administer the Article 15 (if you are angry or upset)
  • Collect all of the facts and hear both sides of the story before you proceed
  • Consider other forms of punishment (corrective training, counseling, etc.) before you decide to go with an Article 15
  • Make sure the punishment matches the crime
  • Consult with your senior commander or JAG if you have questions
  • Consult with your 1SG and enlisted advisors and get their input before you make a decision
  • Try to see things from the Soldier’s point of view
  • Consider the Soldier’s past performance, attitude, and contributions to the team
  • Do the right thing!

Tips for Soldiers

Here are a few tips for Soldiers if you are about to receive an Article 15:

  • Know your rights
  • Consult with JAG ahead of time
  • If you are wrong, or messed up, admit it, accept the punishment and learn from the experience
  • If you are truly innocent of what you are being accused of, learn more about appealing the case to a courts-martial
  • Remain professional and don’t have a chip on your shoulder

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that the Article 15 is a tool for commanders to maintain good order and discipline in their units without doing court-martials.  Whether you are a commander administering punishment or a Soldier receiving it, know your rights and do the right thing.

What are your thoughts?  What experience do you have dealing with an Article 15?  Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.  I look forward to hearing from you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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5 thoughts on “Army Article 15: 17 Things you Should Know”

  1. True, any questions should be directed to the JAG office. But, apart from that, this is something that everyone needs to research and understand if they are going to be in any way affiliated with the military. Not to be a prude, but let’s think about this… adultery, sodomy, drunkenness. Hmmm. Are these qualities that we want in our fighting forces? Best advice – as Chuck states – if you are messed up, admit it. Let’s fix it and move forward.

  2. You mentioned that when a soldier leaves the unit, the article 15 also leaves the JAG office. If he or she transfers to a different unit, does the article 15 completely disappear? I would think it would stay in the record so the new commander would know about it.

    Can you go further into depth on that, or someone else? It just seems that something like this should follow the soldier for a certain amount of time. I do believe everyone makes mistakes, but commanders should be aware of bad actions in their ranks.

  3. This is good information to know and understand. While I have never dealt, or been involved in an Article 15, I know 1 soldier who has. Not to go to deep into it, that soldier knew he was innocent and it seemed the officer had a chip on his shoulder for the soldier. After bypassing the Article 15 and taking it to a courts martial, realization of the chip was noticed and the soldier was transferred so that he was not under that commander anymore.

      1. Even the mere mention of an Article 15 is a bit scary. Once again, as you state, if you are wrong and messed up, let’s get this fixed. We can move forward. If you are innocent, go ahead and fight for appeals. Look, everyone makes mistakes, especially when we are young. Learning from this can be much more impressive than pretending you never had problems

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