What Does an Article 15 Do to Your Career: Understanding its Impact

Have you ever heard of an Article 15 in the military? If you’re serving in the US Armed Forces, then chances are you’re familiar with this term. But what does it really mean for your career once you’re handed an Article 15? This article aims to shed light on the impact that an Article 15 can have on your military career.

First things first, let’s define what an Article 15 is. Simply put, it’s a form of nonjudicial punishment authorized under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This means that it’s a type of disciplinary action that doesn’t require a court-martial. If you violate certain military laws or regulations, you can be subject to an Article 15, which can result in anything from a written reprimand to reduction in rank or pay.

Now, what happens after you receive an Article 15? Well, it depends on what kind of punishment you receive. For minor offenses, such as missing a formation or being late to duty, you may simply receive a verbal or written reprimand. But for more serious offenses, such as drug use or assault, the consequences can be much more severe. You could be demoted or even discharged from the military altogether. The impact on your career can be significant, so it’s important to understand the potential consequences of your actions.

Overview of Article 15

Article 15 is a section of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) that outlines the non-judicial punishment (NJP) process for members of the United States Armed Forces. It is an administrative hearing, also known as a “captain’s mast” in the Navy or “office hours” in the Army, where a commanding officer determines if a service member has committed a punishable offense. If found guilty, the service member can face a range of punishments, including reprimands, fines, restriction, extra duties, or reduction in rank.

  • Who can be subject to Article 15?
  • Any member of the U.S. military, including active-duty and reserve personnel, can be subject to Article 15. However, there are certain limitations for officers, who can only receive administrative punishment from their superior officers or a court-martial. Additionally, the right to refuse NJP is available only to those who are eligible and request trial by court-martial.

  • What offenses can lead to Article 15?
  • Article 15 can be issued for any offense that violates the UCMJ or any other military law or regulation. Some common offenses that lead to NJP include insubordination, fraternization, drunk driving, drug abuse, disrespect, theft, and disorderly conduct.

  • What are the consequences of Article 15?
  • The consequences of Article 15 can range from mild to severe, depending on the nature and severity of the offense. Unlike a court-martial, an NJP hearing does not result in a criminal conviction or a formal record, and the punishment stays within the chain of command. However, an Article 15 can become part of the service member’s permanent record and affect their security clearance, promotion opportunities, and chances of reenlisting. Additionally, a second or subsequent NJP can lead to a court-martial and the possibility of a dishonorable discharge.

How Article 15 affects military career advancement

Article 15, also known as Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP), is a disciplinary action issued by commanders to service members for minor offenses. NJP can have severe consequences that can affect a military career. Here are some ways Article 15 can impact career advancement:

  • Loss of security clearance: A security clearance is critical to military personnel in certain roles and levels of clearance. An Article 15 can lead to the revocation of that clearance, making it impossible for a service member to perform the duties associated with that clearance. Losing a security clearance can lead to a change in assignment or discharge from the military.
  • Impact on promotions: A service member who receives an Article 15 may find it challenging to get promoted. The NJP can be recorded in their performance evaluation report effectively preventing them from getting promoted while it remains on their record. This, in turn, can delay career advancement.
  • Adverse personnel actions: An Article 15 can trigger adverse personnel actions that could lead to separation, which can negatively affect a service member’s military career. A single NJP might not lead to a discharge, but repeated violations could lead to harsher consequences, such as a discharge from service.

Consequences of Article 15

An Article 15 can stay on a military record for years, and when a service member is seeking to take the next step in their career, it could prevent them from doing so. It can also affect future civilian employment prospects. In some cases, NJP can lead to administrative separation from the military, which is a formal process resulting in a service member’s discharge from the military. Administrative separation can cause disqualifications from civilian employment that require background checks, especially those that involve security clearance.


Article 15 is a disciplinary action used by commanders to punish soldiers for minor misconduct. However, it can have a significant long-term impact on the service member’s military career. As a service member, it’s essential to be aware of the consequences involved in receiving NJP, and where possible, avoid it. Commanders should also ensure that NJP is only used as a last resort when all other methods have failed.

Type of NJP Maximum Punishment
Summarized 14 days of confinement, 14 days of extra duty, and reduction in grade.
Company Grade Restriction, reduction in grade, forfeiture of up to 7 days’ pay, 14 days of extra duty, correctional custody, or up to 1 month confinement.
Field Grade Restriction, reduction in grade, forfeiture of up to 1/2 of one month’s pay, correctional custody, 45 days of extra duty, or up to 2 months’ confinement.

The maximum punishment that an individual can receive from an NJP depends on the commanding officer’s rank, with the field grade officer being the highest in authority.

Common Article 15 Punishments

Article 15 is a legal tool used by the military to discipline and punish service members for offenses committed. There are a variety of punishments that can be imposed depending on the severity of the offense. Here are some of the most common Article 15 punishments:

  • Counseling: This is the lowest level of punishment and is typically used for minor offenses. It involves a verbal or written reprimand and is meant to serve as a warning to the service member.
  • Extra Duty: This punishment involves requiring the service member to perform additional work such as cleaning or other menial tasks outside their normal duties.
  • Restriction: This punishment involves limiting the movement of the service member on base or off base. The service member may be required to stay within a specific geographical area for a certain amount of time.
  • Forfeiture of Pay: This punishment involves taking away a portion of the service member’s pay for a specified period of time.
  • Reduction in Rank: This punishment involves decreasing the service member’s rank and can have significant long-term consequences for their career progression.
  • Extra Duty With Restriction: This punishment is a combination of extra duty and restriction and requires the service member to perform additional work while also being restricted in their movement.
  • Correctional Custody: This punishment involves confining the service member to a specific area within the base for a specified period of time.
  • Suspension of Favorable Personnel Action: This punishment involves suspending any promotions or accolades that the service member may have been in line for.
  • Bad Conduct Discharge: This is a severe punishment that involves being dismissed from the military with a less than honorable discharge. This punishment can have significant long-term consequences for the service member’s career and personal life.

Reduction in Rank

One of the most severe punishments that can be imposed through Article 15 proceedings is a reduction in rank. This punishment involves a decrease in the service member’s rank and can have significant long-term consequences for their career progression.

When a service member is reduced in rank, they may lose access to certain job opportunities or training that is associated with their previous rank. This can make it difficult for the service member to continue to progress in their career and can ultimately limit their potential for advancement.

It’s important to note that a reduction in rank can impact both commissioned officers and enlisted service members. Officers who are reduced in rank may be forced to resign from the military depending on the circumstances surrounding their offense.

Forfeiture of Pay Table

Grade Per Month
E-1 $233.94
E-2 $296.94
E-3 $318.24
E-4 $368.67
E-5 $403.67
E-6 $433.50
E-7 $497.04
E-8 $594.99
E-9 $646.80

Forfeiture of pay is a common punishment that can be imposed through Article 15 proceedings. The amount of pay that can be forfeited depends on the grade of the service member. The table above provides a breakdown of the amount of pay that can be forfeited for each grade.

It’s important to note that a service member who is subject to forfeiture of pay may be able to petition for a remission of the punishment. If the petition is granted, the service member may be able to receive the forfeited pay back.

Appealing an Article 15 decision

Receiving an Article 15 can have a negative impact on your military career, but it is important to remember that you have the right to appeal a decision. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering an appeal:

  • Timeframe: You have a limited amount of time to appeal an Article 15 decision, typically within five business days of the initial decision. It is important to act quickly and seek legal counsel to assist you in the process.
  • Grounds for appeal: You must have a valid reason for appealing the decision, such as a mistake of fact, procedural errors, or an unfair punishment. It is important to gather evidence and build a strong case for your appeal.
  • Appeals process: The appeals process can vary depending on the specific situation and branch of the military. Generally, you will need to submit a written appeal and attend an appeal hearing. It is important to understand the specific rules and procedures for your particular case.

If you choose to appeal an Article 15 decision, it is important to keep in mind that the process can be stressful and time-consuming. However, it may be worth it to protect your military career and reputation.

Here is an example of the appeals process for the Army:

Step Action
Step 1 Complete DA Form 4187 and request a personal appearance before the officer who imposed the punishment
Step 2 The officer who imposed the punishment reviews the appeal with the soldier and may decide to uphold or reduce the punishment, or dismiss the charges
Step 3 If the punishment is upheld, the soldier can submit a written appeal to the next level of command, typically within five calendar days of the decision
Step 4 The appeal is reviewed by the next level of command, which may uphold, reduce, or dismiss the punishment
Step 5 If the punishment is still upheld, the soldier can request a final review by the Board for Correction of Military Records

Overall, appealing an Article 15 decision can be a complex process, but it is important to understand your rights and options. Seeking legal counsel and gathering evidence can help improve your chances of a successful appeal.

Differences between Article 15 and Court Martial

As a service member, it is essential to be aware of the various types of disciplinary actions that can affect your military career. Two of the most common actions for misconduct are Article 15 and court-martial. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the two.

  • Nature of the Offense: Article 15 is a non-judicial punishment for minor offenses that do not require a court-martial. Court-martial, on the other hand, is a formal military trial for more serious offenses.
  • Investigation and Evidence: In Article 15, the commanding officer has the power to investigate and hear evidence regarding the alleged offense. In contrast, court-martial requires a formal investigation conducted by trained legal personnel, and there are strict rules of evidence that must be followed.
  • Punishment: Article 15 can result in various punishments such as reduction in rank, extra duties, or forfeiture of pay. However, the maximum punishment can only be 14 days of confinement. In contrast, court-martial can result in more severe punishments such as dishonorable discharge, confinement for years, and even the death penalty.

It is crucial to note that a punishment under Article 15 does not constitute a criminal conviction, whereas court-martial results in a criminal conviction. Therefore, a punishment under Article 15 will not appear on a service member’s criminal record, but a conviction from court-martial will be recorded.

Overall, it is essential to understand the differences between Article 15 and court-martial and to consult with a military defense attorney if you are facing either of these disciplinary actions. By doing so, you can take appropriate steps to protect your legal rights and military career.

Receiving a Reprimand versus Article 15

Receiving a reprimand or an Article 15 in the military can have significant impacts on one’s career. While both are disciplinary actions taken against a service member, there are important differences between the two.

  • A reprimand, also known as a nonjudicial punishment (NJP), is a lesser disciplinary action compared to an Article 15. It is usually given for minor offenses and handled by the service member’s commanding officer.
  • An Article 15 is a more serious disciplinary action that is taken by a commanding officer or higher-ranking officer. It can result in loss of rank, pay, and other privileges.
  • An Article 15 is considered a criminal offense and goes on a service member’s permanent record, while a reprimand is not considered a criminal offense and does not appear on a permanent record.

When a service member receives a reprimand, it is often seen as a warning to correct their behavior. It is generally viewed as something that can be easily overcome with time and good conduct. However, an Article 15 can have more serious consequences, including the possibility of being separated from the military with a less than honorable discharge.

It is important to note that receiving either a reprimand or an Article 15 can have negative impacts on a service member’s career. Even if a service member is able to overcome the disciplinary action and continue with their military career, it may still be viewed negatively by their superiors and could potentially impact future assignments and promotions.

Key Differences between Reprimands and Article 15

Reprimand Article 15
Lesser disciplinary action More serious disciplinary action
Handled by commanding officer Handled by commanding officer or higher-ranking officer
Not considered a criminal offense and doesn’t go on a service member’s permanent record Considered a criminal offense and goes on a service member’s permanent record

Ultimately, it is important for service members to understand the potential consequences of receiving either a reprimand or an Article 15. While a reprimand may be easier to overcome, both can have significant impacts on one’s military career and future opportunities within the military.

Impact of Article 15 on Security Clearance

One of the major consequences of receiving an Article 15 is its impact on security clearance. A security clearance is a determination made by the government that an individual is eligible for access to classified information, and it is a crucial requirement for various military jobs. A valid security clearance is also necessary for advancement in rank and pay scale.

  • Immediate suspension of security clearance: A non-judicial punishment such as an Article 15 results in an immediate suspension of security clearance while the investigation is ongoing. This can significantly impact the clearance holder’s ability to perform their job and may even lead to a downgrade or revocation of the clearance.
  • Negative impact on clearance renewal: Even if the clearance is not revoked, an Article 15 can have a negative impact on the renewal process. Security clearance investigations evaluate an individual’s trustworthiness, reliability, character, and ability to protect classified information. An Article 15 may raise doubts about the clearance holder’s judgment and ability to meet these criteria.
  • Limitation of job opportunities: Security clearance is often a requirement for working in high-security positions in the military. A suspension or revocation of the clearance due to an Article 15 may limit the individual’s job opportunities within their military career. Additionally, individuals may face difficulties in attaining a civilian job that requires a security clearance in the future.

It is important to note that each case is evaluated individually, and an Article 15 may not necessarily lead to the revocation of clearance. However, the consequences of receiving an NJP can have a lasting impact on the career of a service member, including their eligibility for advanced training, promotion, and future job opportunities.

In order to avoid jeopardizing their security clearance, service members should seek the advice of a legal counsel before accepting an Article 15. It is also recommended to seek counseling and support services to address any underlying issues that led to the infraction, and to take proactive measures to mitigate any potential negative consequences.

Consequences of Article 15 on Security Clearance
Immediate suspension of security clearance Can limit job opportunities and rank advancement
May have a negative impact on clearance renewal Can lead to downgrade or revocation of clearance

It is crucial for service members to prioritize their career goals and take proactive measures to ensure that they maintain eligibility for a security clearance. Seeking counsel, addressing underlying issues, and maintaining a strong track record of reliability and trustworthiness can help mitigate the impact of an Article 15 on security clearance and career aspirations.

FAQs: What Does an Article 15 Do to Your Career?

1. What is an Article 15?

An Article 15 is a form of military punishment that is non-judicial. It is typically given to soldiers who have broken military rules and regulations, but it can also be used for other disciplinary purposes.

2. How does an Article 15 affect my career?

An Article 15 can seriously impact your military career. It can result in a reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay, and even a discharge from the military.

3. Can an Article 15 be appealed?

Yes, soldiers who have been given an Article 15 have the right to appeal the decision. However, the appeal process can be lengthy and difficult.

4. Will an Article 15 show up on my record?

Yes, an Article 15 will be recorded in your military file. This means that it can impact your ability to get promoted, receive security clearances, and even impact your civilian career prospects.

5. Can I still retire if I have received an Article 15?

It depends on the severity of the punishment and how it has impacted your career. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to retire normally or you may have to retire at a lower rank.

6. Can I join another branch of the military if I have received an Article 15?

It is possible, but it depends on the specific circumstances surrounding your Article 15. Each branch of the military has its own regulations and policies regarding prior punishments.

7. Will my Article 15 follow me for the rest of my life?

An Article 15 can impact your military career for the rest of your life, but it will not follow you into civilian life. However, depending on the severity of the punishment, it may impact your job prospects in the future.

Closing: Thanks for reading!

We hope this article has helped answer some of your questions about what an Article 15 can do to your career. Remember, if you have received an Article 15, it is important to seek guidance from a military attorney or your chain of command. Thanks for reading and come back soon for more informative articles!