Bar To Reenlistment: An Overview

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 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.

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9 thoughts on “Bar To Reenlistment: An Overview

  1. Can I really lose my Montgomery GI Bill if they don’t lift my bar to reenlistment before I ETS? I have 1 yr left in active duty service for a total of 6.5 years and they barred me due to a few times being late. Or, my supervisor thinking I’m not “contributing”. I just don’t think that I should lose the benefits I’ve earned such as my Mont. GI Bill etc. Will this affect me negatively after my departure of the army.

    • Jay,

      I cannot answer your question. You should talk with the S1 or JAG to find out more. I’m not sure if you can lose your GI Bill or not.


  2. I am a firm believer in second, third, and even forth chances, but I also agree with Justin. Soldiers who are “milking” the Guard need to be barred. I do believe that someone who has 17-18 years and is sitting back and not keeping up should be counseled and warned about the possibility of Bar to Reenlistment. I believe if it is put to them in a firm way, and explained how it could harm their retirement, they will straighten up. In doing this, I would have witnesses so that there will be no ideas of coming back on the Commander with a discrimination claim.

    It all comes down to good judgement. Hopefully each leader will try to use it.

  3. From what I’ve been able to gather from the members of my family who are in the Military, as well as from your site, it’s pretty difficult to be barred from reenlistment. The military sets forth very clear standards of conduct and has regular counseling sessions scheduled to ensure each member maintains a progressive tract. I think it would have to be a pretty serious infraction to have just a single instance be worthy of being barred from reenlistment, instead I think it’s something to keep as a last-ditch option after multiple attempts at correction.

    • It really just depends on the Soldier, what they did, and what the chain of command thinks. You can be “barred” for failing multiple APFTs and many other things.

  4. I used this tool a lot as a Company Commander and found it a very effective way to resolve issues that might not get resolved otherwise. It really works if the Soldier actually wants to continue their service. Otherwise, the Soldiers could normally care less. Just my experience.


  5. Bar to re-enlistment is probably one of my favorite things. Nothing bothers me more than dudes who re-up for a year at a time and milk the Guard. It makes the unit look bad. It also is a tumor that effects the unit in a negative way. I am glad that many BTNs are starting to go back to the old school and really enforcing bar to re-enlistments for APFT failures, missing drills, etc.

    • I feel the same way. I hope more small unit leaders will educate themselves about the Bart to Reenlistment and do what they can to use it effectively.


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