Army Failure to Report Counseling Example

In today’s post, I want to share an example Army Failure to Report Counseling. I will define what “failure to report” means, explain when to do the counseling, and review how to fill out DA Form 4856. I’ll also share some simple tips for success.

What Does Failure to Report Mean?

I figured the best way to begin this article would be to define what “failure to report” means.

In the military, Soldiers are governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, aka UCMJ. In layman’s terms, the UCMJ is a set of rules and bylaws military members must abide by. Think of it as the “Constitution” for service members.

One of those “rules” in the UCMJ is the requirement to be where ordered and on time. Failure to do so is known as failure to report, which can result in negative things such as forfeiture of pay, courts martial, confinement, and even a dishonorable discharge.

Failure to report is broken down into several categories to include AWOL, missing movement, and desertion. Desertion is covered under Article 85 of the UCMJ. AWOL is covered by under Article 86 of the UCMJ and missing movement is covered under Article 87 of the UCMJ.

I share this information to educate you. Keep in mind, I am not a lawyer.

Failing to report for duty can carry serious consequences in the military, in fact desertion during armed conflict can carry the ultimate punishment. It is highly important that if you are a member of the armed forces and you are required to be somewhere designated by the military that you do so. If you do not, these unauthorized absences may lead to hefty fines, confinement, or dishonorable discharge. ~ Cannon & Associates

When to Do the Counseling

As leaders in the military we are often given “flexibility” on how we handle things. Of course, certain situations require certain steps. If one of your Soldiers fails to report, you must decide HOW you want to handle it at the first line leader level.

Normally, the first commander in the chain of command has specific guidance on what must me done. If not, you might want to ask them BEFORE you decide what to do. I can tell you from personal experience that putting things is writing is the ONLY way to effectively remedy most situations. Plus, it gives you a paper trail if problems persist.

Here are a few situations that might trigger you doing a failure to report counseling with one of your subordinates.

  1. On Active Duty, when a Soldier doesn’t show up for work without informing his chain of command first.
  2. In the ARNG or USAR, a Soldier doesn’t show up for drill weekend.
  3. A Soldier is late to drill weekend and the unit has already departed the armory in the convoy to the training area.

*** Keep in mind I am not a lawyer. Please consult with your chain of command or JAG for additional clarification. This is not legal advice. ***

army failure to report counseling

Army Failure to Report Counseling

This is a generic counseling example you can use if you must counsel one of your subordinates for failure to report to duty (or being late). Modify the information as needed to meet your specific situation. Each category is taken from DA Form 4856.

Purpose of Counseling

Event Oriented: Failure to Report for Duty on 15 November 2010 (Violation of Article 86)

Summary of Counseling

The purpose of this counseling is to inform you SPC Edwards that you failed to report for duty at 0700 hours on 15 November 2010. This was the “first formation” for our unit. You did not show up to work until 0800 hours.

The previous day, 14 November 2010, you were reminded of the formation twice. We talked about it at lunch and I reminded you again before you went home for the day.

When I asked you why you were late for formation you told me that your alarm clock did not go off and you slept in on accident. Since this is the second time you were late for work during the past 90-days, I am going to have you do the following things:

(1)  Show up for formation 15-minutes early every day for the next week and sign in with the Company CQ.

(2)  Write a 500 word article on the importance of being on time.

In the event you are late again, during the next 90 days, I will recommend to the Company Commander that you be reduced in rank from E4 to E3.

Failing to report for duty is a direct violation of Article 86 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Pursuant to 1-16, AR 635-200, this constitutes a formal counseling session concerning your noted deficiencies. You will be given a reasonable period of time to correct these deficiencies and to rehabilitate yourself into a productive satisfactory Soldier. Your conduct will be monitored during this time and you will be given an opportunity to prove yourself. If your performance and conduct continues to be unsatisfactory, you could be processed for separation under Chapter 5-13 or 5-17 AR 635-200. You could also be chapter under Chapter 9, 13, or 14. If you are processed for separation under Chapters 9 or 13 you could receive a general discharge and if processed under Chapter 14, Section III, you may receive up to an Other Than Honorable Discharge. Regardless of the type of discharge that you may receive it may have serious consequences effecting civilian, veteran’s benefits, or future service.

Plan of Action

SPC Edwards will show up for formation 15-minutes prior to each formation for the next seven days. He will report to the Company CQ NCO and sign in starting 16 Nov 2010 and ending 23 Nov 2010. He will sign in NLT 0645 hours each day. I will collect the information from the Company CQ NCO to make sure you showed up on time.

You will write a 500 word, typed report on the importance of showing up on time. The paper will be single spaced, sized 12 Arial Font, with 1 inch margins. It will have minimum 500 words. You will use at least three sources and cite them in your paper. This report is due on 19 Nov 2010 at 1700 hours. I will read and grade the report.  If it is not to standard, I will have you rewrite it.

Session Closing

SPC Edwards, you are a good Soldier. Although you made a bad decision to show up late for formation, I know you have the potential to do great things. I hope you will let this be a “learning lesson” that helps mold you into the Soldier you are capable of becoming. If you have any questions about this counseling or plan of action, you can call me to clarify it.

Leader Responsibilities

My responsibility is to ensure SPC Edwards signs in on time each morning and that the paper is submitted on time. If he has questions, he can contact me directly. I will do a follow-up counseling with him in two weeks.


Now that I’ve provided you an example Army Failure to Report Counseling, I would like to share some tips for success with you.

Punishments ultimately depend on the severity of the offense. In AWOL cases, punishment often results in loss of pay and confinement. Being AWOL for three days or less can bring a maximum of one month of confinement and two-thirds docked pay for a month. If you were AWOL for more than 30 days, your punishment may be an dishonorable discharge, loss of all further pay and allowances, and up to a year in confinement. ~ Wilkie Law Firm Military Defender

Tips for Success

First and foremost, your job is to collect the facts before you do the counseling. Make sure you talk with the Soldier and find out what happened (from their perspective). There might be more to the story than you know about. I’m not suggesting you let the Soldier off the hook, but I am telling you to get all the information before you put anything in writing. After all, there is always at least two sides to every story.

My next tip for success is to do the counseling immediately. Don’t wait a few days or a few weeks to do the counseling. The sooner you do it the better. You want to set a good example and do it quickly. Don’t leave the Soldier wondering what is going to happen and when.

Another good tip for success is to put some thought into the punishment. Before you recommend UCMJ or a demotion, think about the best way to fix the problem without ruining your Soldier’s career at the same time. You might want to get some input from your supervisor, or even a trusted peer. You should also take into consideration the Soldiers’ past performance and future potential.

My next tip for success is to have someone review your counseling statement BEFORE you sit down with your Soldier. The last thing you want to do is to put something into writing that comes back and haunts you. If you can’t get input from anyone else, at least take a few hour break from the time you first write the counseling statement until you sit down with the Soldier. Look over the document one last time with a fresh set of eyes.

My final tip is to make sure you put it in writing. A verbal counseling is not good enough, especially for a failure to report infraction. If you don’t put it in writing, it’s as if the counseling never happened. Do your job and put it in writing.

counsel your soldier in writing

Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading my Army Failure to Report Counseling Example and tips. I hope you find the information helpful. I’d love to know what you think. Do you have any tips for doing a Failure to Report Counseling? If so, leave a comment below to share your thoughts. Have a great day. Hooah!

the mentor book

If you are a first line leader, and you have Soldiers work for you, I highly recommend this resource on Amazon. It is a great tool to teach you how to do counseling the right way. Plus, it provides plenty of simple examples and templates you can use.

Other Must Read Articles
  1. Military Career Tips
  2. Army Team Leader Initial Counseling Advice and Tips
  3. Sample Army Team Leader Initial Counseling Packet
  4. Company Commander Initial Counseling: Tips for Battalion Commanders
  5. How to Conduct an Army Counseling the Right Way
chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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16 thoughts on “Army Failure to Report Counseling Example”

  1. Do you know anything in regards to counseling Reserve soldiers for missing “drill” on multiple occasions and not staying in contact with leadership. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. This switching from active to reserve is a pain in the butt.

  2. Sir, thanks for the advice. This is something that I am actually working on for myself. I am working on trying to collect the facts to determine whether or not a need for counseling is a must. As you stated, there are two sides to a story, there might be more to the story than I know. I had a minor issue like this with a NCO, my first thought was to write him up, then I decided to find out what was going on, on the other hand, that does not mean he should keep doing it because i spoke to him off line, after all, he does have a duty to be at formation( Especially, first formation) again sir, thanks.

  3. Theresa Williams

    This is a fantastic resource. Neil below said that having a complete record of all failing to report counselings may make it easier to process a dismissal, and I agree mostly. Sometimes, for whatever reason (since I cannot peer into minds– although I wish I could!), command just will not dismiss or discharge a soldier. It has happened in our company several times. Perhaps they see something in the soldiers no one else does? The Battalion commander even went so far as to “give a clean slate” to a repeat offender after he had another failing to report counseling given to him! But, again, perhaps they saw something in those soldiers the rest of us did not.

    1. As a first line leader, all you can do is do your job and document the counselings. You can issue some punishment, but most of the “big decisions” are reserved for the Company Commander or Battalion Commander. Ultimately, if you’ve done your job right, most of the time they will side with you and get rid of the Soldier. However, sometimes they make a different decision than what you recommend. It is what it is.

  4. This is a great post. I have one soldier who has a habit of not coming to drill. I’ve counseled him in the past and even had our Readiness NCO send out certified letters. I’m in the process of trying to discharge him right now, but even that is tough to do.

    1. The easiest solution is a Bar to Reenlistment, a FLAG, or even better, a bonus recoupment if they received one. Money talks. Sometimes it’s the only way to get your problem Soldier’s attention.

  5. This is a great resource, Chuck. I had one of my soldiers not show up for drill weekend last weekend and I used this information to do the counseling. It really helped a lot. Thanks.

    1. Glad it helped. Hopefully, it remedied the problem and prevented it from happening again. If not, at least you have a paper trail to proceed with a corrective action.

  6. Give the late guy a job such as taking roll at the beginning of formation. Have a backup soldier in case the late guy is still late. Your example for failure to report counseling of expecting them to be there not only on time, but be 30 minutes early is a good idea in my opinion. I take it that the NCO is 30 minutes early or earlier? Maybe the writing task is not the best idea. I say this because I taught English for 15 years or so. I wish that writing was never given as a punishment. Does that make sense?

    1. If someone is continuously late, it really doesn’t matter what job you give them. They will continue to be late. Some Soldiers simply like to test the system and see what they can get away with. It’s our job to enforce the standards and hold them accountable.

      I’d say for the first offense, a verbal counseling, a second offense, a written counseling, and third offense, UCMJ or punitive punishment. I do believe in giving people chances, to some degree.

      Each situation is different. That being said, you can’t let the slackers get over. It’s an insult to everyone who does the right thing and shows up on time.

  7. Neil O'Donnell

    Documenting the meeting completely is key. Record notes during the counseling session and then document actions taken by you and your subordinate (everything said and done). It might help to write a comprehensive draft and then input information into the official counseling form afterwards. The key to a good counseling report is detail, because the details may be needed later on if the soldier challenges later punishments. Furthermore, if the soldier continues to repeat the behavior, having complete records for all instances of faling to report may make it easier to process his/her dismissal.

    1. Yes, having detailed records is important. One simple thing to do is to do the verbal counseling first, let your thoughts clear, type everything up in writing, and then bring the Soldier back in to sign the document. That way you don’t forget anything.

      I’ve found that in about 9 in 10 cases, once you start putting things in writing, most Soldiers will understand you are serious, and will get their act together. For the ones that don’t, you now have a solid paper trail to recommend UCMJ, discharge, or something else. Hope that helps.

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