Today, I want to educate you about the Uniform Code of Military Justice, so you have a better understanding about what it is and how it works. I’ll cover 10 things you should know about the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Please keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer or JAG Officer, so if you have a specific question, contact your local JAG Office.
# 1 The UCMJ was passed by Congress on May 5, 1950, signed into law by President Truman and become effective on May 31, 1951.
# 2 The UCMJ allows personal jurisdiction over the Air Force, Coast Guard (in some cases), Marines, Navy, NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps (in some cases), and Public Health Commissioned Corps (in some cases).
# 3 Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to govern and make rules over the land and naval forces.
# 4 The UCMJ traces its roots back to 1775 with the 69 Articles of War.
# 5 Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard are NOT subject to the UCMJ unless they are activated in a federal capacity, or at annual training.
# 6 The UCMJ gives commanders the ability to issue non-judicial punishment in order to maintain good order and discipline in their units (Article 15, subchapter 3).
# 7 The most current edition of the UCMJ is dated 2012.
# 8 Some of the punitive articles include:
- 81 – Conspiracy
- 85 – Desertion
- 86 – Absent without Leave
- 89- Disrespect to superior commissioned officer
- 92 – Failure to obey order
- 104 – Aiding the enemy
- 107 – False official statements
- 112 – Drunk on duty
# 9 Article 134 is the “catch all” article which authorizes the prosecution of offenses not specifically detailed by any other article: all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty. Some examples include adultery, arson, burglary, sodomy, and drunkenness.
# 10 Here are the subchapters of the UCMJ:
- I General Provisions
- II Apprehension and Restraint
- III Non-Judicial Punishment
- IV Court-Martial Jurisdiction
- V Composition of Courts-Martial
- VI Pre-Trial Procedures
- VII Trial Procedures
- VIII Sentences
- IX Post Trial Procedures and Review of Court Martial
- X Punitive Articles
- XI Miscellaneous Provisions
- XII Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
The bottom line is that the Uniform Code of Military Justice is the military law for service members. Whether you are a Soldier, commander or small unit leader you should know your rights (and your Soldiers’ rights) so you can always do the right thing and enforce the standards. I suggest you get a copy of the UCMJ and read it. And if you ever have a specific question, contact your local JAG Office.
What are your thoughts? What do you like and dislike about the Uniform Code of Military Justice? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.