A large majority of Soldiers complete their service with pride and honor. However, there are some who end up getting chaptered out, or don’t earn an honorable discharge. There is one way to prevent retention of Soldiers who shouldn’t stay in the military, without kicking them out immediately – letting them stay in their term of service, but not letting them reenlist. This is called a bar to reenlistment.
The regulation covering this is AR 601-280, Army Retention Program, found at http://www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/r601_280.pdf and starting on page 43. Soldiers cannot arbitrarily be barred from reenlistment. They also cannot be barred from reenlistment if they are already pending separation action via AR 635-200.
Here is a list of reasons why a Soldier can be barred from reenlistment: untrainable, unsuitable, single Soldiers/dual military couples who have dependent family members and no family care plan; continued lateness to formation, AWOL, loss of clothing or equipment, substandard hygiene or personal appearance, continued inability or unwillingness to pay bills, article 15s, frequent traffic violations, repeated APFT failure, excessive sick calls with no justification, cannot follow orders, cannot get promoted due to marginal performance, declines to attend professional military education schools like WLC, ALC; and many others. As you can see, most of these have to do with substandard performance and lack of initiative and Army Values. There are many other reasons listed in the regulation, and the list is not all-inclusive.
One important thing to remember is that you should always counsel your Soldiers – for good or bad. If there are specific instances that are recorded when a Soldier is continually being problematic, it will make your bar to reenlistment much more valid. The Army will not accept vague references and approximate dates and times if you are seeking to initiate a bar to reenlistment.
If a Soldier has been in 18 years, you are not allowed to bar them from reenlistment in order to prevent them from reaching retirement. However, their years of service otherwise does not matter if you deem a Soldier unfit to continue on and reenlist. There is an appeal process for Soldiers who believe this action to be unfair.
Final Thoughts: There are a lot of reasons a Soldier can be barred from reenlistment, however, do you think that each case warrants a bar to reenlistment; or do you think they should have to have several infractions for it to be worth your while? Read the list in the regulation and comment on what you think.