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.
# 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
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.