9-1. Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)
The UCMJ applies to active duty Soldiers 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Anywhere you are in the world, the UCMJ applies.
All persons in the military service are required to strictly obey and promptly execute the legal orders of their lawful seniors. The UCMJ is the statute that prescribes criminal law for Soldiers.
UCMJ authorizes non-judicial punishment (administrative actions) by commanders and judicial punishment by courts-martial (military courts).
It also provides for the punishment of strictly military offenses. Military offenses are those not common in civilian law. Examples include failure to repair, absence without leave, disrespect to NCOs and commissioned officers, and disobedience of orders.
The principle that an accused is innocent until proven guilty applies to both non-judicial punishment and courts-martial. You have the right to be informed of any charges against you, as well as the names of accusers and known witnesses.
UCMJ: Non-Judicial Punishment
Under the provisions of the UCMJ, Article 15, commanding officers may impose non-judicial punishment upon Soldiers who commit minor offenses within their units.
The purpose of non-judicial punishment is to train, correct, and reform. It also promotes positive behavior changes in Soldiers without the stigma of a courts-martial conviction.
While Article 15s are often considered “minor,” common punishments include: revocation of pay, revocation of time (through extra duty) and revocation of rank.
There are three types of courts-martial: summary, special, and general.
Trials by courts-martial are the military equivalents of trials by judges and juries. The differences among the three are based on their composition, level of authority, and severity of punishments authorized.
A summary courts-martial is composed of a commissioned officer on active duty with the grade of captain or above. The purpose of the summary courts-martial is to make thorough and impartial inquiries into minor offenses and to make sure that justice is done, with the interests of both the government and the accused being safeguarded.
A special courts-martial consists of a military judge and not less than three panel members when required. It is held for relatively serious offenses.
A general courts-martial consists of a military judge and not less than five panel members when required. It is held for serious offenses.
A general courts-martial may impose any authorized punishment including the death penalty in certain cases.
The Equal Opportunity (EO) program ensures an Army-wide, concentrated effort to maximize human potential and to ensure fair treatment for all persons based solely on merit, fitness, and capability in support of readiness.
The EO philosophy is based on fairness, justice, and equity.
The Army’s EO program emphasizes fair and equal treatment for military personnel, and civilian employees without regard to race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. This policy applies on and off post, extends to Soldiers, civilian employees, and family members, and includes working, living, and recreational environments.
The EO complaints processing system addresses grievances that allege unlawful discrimination or unfair treatment on the basis of race, national origin, color, gender, religious affiliation, or sexual harassment.
Attempts should always be made to solve the problem at the lowest possible level within an organization.
If a complaint is submitted, it will be investigated. Those personnel found in violation of the EO Policy are subject to punishment under the UCMJ.
Within reason, Soldiers and other individuals are encouraged to attempt resolution of any complaints by confronting an alleged offender, or by informing other appropriate officials about the offensive behavior or unfair treatment.
Also, individuals are responsible to advise their chain of command on the specifics of any discrimination or sexual harassment so appropriate action can be taken.
Personnel must submit only legitimate complaints, and should exercise caution against frivolous or reckless allegations.
Types of EO Complaints
The Army has two types of EO complaints within its EO complaint process: informal, and formal.
An informal complaint is any complaint that a Soldier, Family member or DA civilian does not wish to file in writing. Informal complaints may be resolved by the complainant directly with the assistance of another unit member, the commander, or another person in the complainant's chain of command.
Typically, those issues that may be taken care of informally can be resolved through discussion, problem identification, and clarification of the issues. An informal complaint is not subject to time suspense, nor is it reportable.
A formal complaint is one that a Soldier, Family member, or DA civilian files in writing and swears to the accuracy of the information. DA Form 7279-R, Equal Opportunity Complaint Form can be obtained at the unit or higher headquarters level.
Formal complaints require specific actions, are subject to timelines, and require documentation of actions taken.
Although handling EO complaints through the chain of command is strongly encouraged, this is not the only channel. Should a Soldier feel uncomfortable in filing a complaint with the chain of command, or should the complaint be against a member of the chain of command, there are a number of alternative agencies through which a complaint can be made.
The following agencies are frequently used:
Equal Opportunity Adviser (EOA)
Staff Judge Advocate
Housing Referral Office
Right to Appeal
If a complainant perceives an investigation failed to reveal all relevant facts, or if actions taken on their behalf are perceived as insufficient, he or she has the right to appeal to the next higher commander.
The complainant may not appeal the action taken against the perpetrator, if any is taken.