What is the DA Form 4856 Magic Bullet Statement? Simply put, it is a “legal statement” that you include on the official Army Counseling Form when you counsel a subordinate. This statement is typically used for “negative” event-oriented counseling. Example events might include insubordination, driving under the influence, failure to report, public intoxication, or something similar.
The purpose of the Magic Bullet Statement is to (1) let your Soldier know that you are serious and you mean business and (2) let your Soldier know what will/could happen if this type of negative behavior continues.
From my personal experience in the military I can tell you that the DA Form 4856 Magic Bullet Statement works wonders. When you include it on the negative counseling statement, you really get the Soldier’s attention. In most cases, it helps correct the poor behavior immediately. After all, who wants to be kicked out of the military? Who wants an Article 15 or Court-martial? Most Soldiers don’t want these things to happen to them.
On the other hand, when it does not work for you, it makes recommending UCMJ or Administrative Actions much easier. Putting things in writing, combined with the Magic Bullet Statement creates a paper trail that covers your know what when you make recommendations to your chain of command. When you can show your commander two, three, four or five negative counseling statements for someone, they will listen to you!
If you supervise Soldiers, I HIGHLY recommend you include the DA 4856 Magic Bullet Statement on every single “negative” counseling that you do. This helps you “cover your butt” and do your job effectively. Here are two basic versions of the Magic Bullet Statement:
“I am counseling you for the conduct noted above. Be advised that continued conduct of this nature may result in initiation of a bar to reenlistment, administrative action to include your separation from the service, and/or punitive action (i.e. UCMJ action). If this conduct continues, action may be initiated to involuntarily separate you from the service under AR 635-200, Chapter 5, 11, 13 or 14. If you are involuntarily separated, you could receive an Honorable, General Under Honorable Conditions, Other Than Honorable, or Uncharacteristic Discharge. An Honorable Discharge may be awarded under Chapter 5, 13 and 14. An Uncharacteristic Discharge may be awarded under Chapter 11. A General Under Honorable Conditions Discharge may be awarded under Chapter 5, 13 and 14. An Other Than Honorable Discharge may be awarded under Chapter 14. If you receive an Honorable Discharge, you will be qualified for most benefits resulting from your military service. If you receive a General Under Honorable Conditions Discharge or an Uncharacteristic Discharge, you will be disqualified from reenlisting in to the service for some period (i.e. at least two years) and you will be ineligible for many veterans benefits to include but not limited to the Montgomery G.I. Bill. If you receive Other Than Honorable Discharge, you will be ineligible for most, if not all, veteran’s benefits to include but not limited to the Montgomery G.I. Bill and you will be precluded from reenlisting in the service. If a General Under Honorable Conditions, Other Than Honorable, or Uncharacteristic Discharge is given, you may face difficulty in obtaining civilian employment as employers have a low regard for less than Honorable Discharges. Although agencies exist to which you may apply to upgrade a less than Honorable Discharge, it is unlikely that such application will be successful.”
“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.”
If you need additional DA Form 4856 Magic Bullet Statements you can do a search on the Internet or visit your local JAG Office. Also, some commands have their own version, so talk with your S1 or Company Commander to find out what they recommend.
In summary, the Magic Bullet Statement is simply a statement that is included on the DA Form 4856 when you do a negative counseling statement with one of your Soldiers. It’s designed to educate the concerned Soldier on what the career and legal ramifications are for repeated bad behavior and poor performance. If you read the examples listed above you will notice that it talks about how repeated poor performance could lead to separation from the military under AR 635-200, or that it could lead to an Other than Honorable Discharge. It’s harsh, but it works.
What are your thoughts? If you’ve had to use the Magic Bullet Statement before, what do you think about it? Do you think it is effective? If so, why? If not, why not? I look forward to hearing from you. Also, if you have any questions, you can ask them too. Post all comments and questions in the area below. Thank you.