Just as not all criminal offenses lead to a jail sentence, not all disciplinary actions involve a court martial. These so-called lesser offenses can still harm your career and adversely impact your life, and the accused should take them very seriously. As part of all military branches’ regulations, adverse administrative actions consist of a commander ordering an investigation of a subordinate for alleged underperformance or misconduct. The format moves relatively quickly and does not involve as many protections or due process.
Grounds for investigation
Since the process is non-judicial, the commander can order an investigation for any reason without any concrete evidence. It could be based on gossip heard in the barracks, allegations made by one person and no other witnesses, the interpretation of innuendo, or an anonymous complaint.
Common types of administrative actions
These are less severe than a court martial or Article 15. The commander has complete discretion over the matter. The results can involve:
- Adverse administrative discharge
- Administrative reduction in rank
- Non-judicial punishment
- Other punishments deemed necessary by the commander
While less severe, these punishments can still affect deployment, duty assignments or career advancement.
Outside guidance may still be helpful
Regardless of whether you are a witness, a person of interest or the focus of the investigation, the service person does not have the right to have legal representation present while dealing with investigators. Nonetheless, discussing the matter with an attorney who understands military law may be wise. These legal professionals can help the client prepare for the investigation and ideally minimize the fallout from the adverse administrative action.