UCMJ – United States Code of Military Justice


10. Punitive Articles

Any person subject to this chapter who–

(1) violates or fails to obey any lawful general order or regulation;

(2) having knowledge of any other lawful order issued by any member of the armed forces, which it is his duty to obey, fails to obey the order; or

(3) is derelict in the performance of his duties;

shall be punished as a court-martial may dire

57 Comments for this entry

  • Lester

    My Master Chief expects me to make coffee every drill weekend. I am an FTS staff with a command of about 8 people, and the most junior myself being the only E4, with 2 E5s, an E6, an E9 and CDR and our civilian employee onboard. I get yelled at in the main office with subordinates and seniors alike present for not making coffee in the morning. If I refuse to do this, does that count as a failure to obey an order? I really need help with this one … he chews me out constantly about this coffee ordeal, critiques my coffee making skills, and even jokes about me making coffee. It is very humiliating and I wish it just stopped. Please help, and thank you.

    • LCDR Moore

      Belittling a Sailor in public is poor leadership, and could cross the line depending content/context of the “yelling”.

      Your command (or ISIC) should have a Command Managed Equal Opportunity rep, normally called CMEO that will be available to aide in this case. The CMEO function is excellent resource to mediate and rebuild broken management issues.

      Bladent disregard of an order or direction could be construed as disobeying an order and insubordination. This is where the core values come into play, do what your told, unless the order compromises immediate safety, after which you seek counsel from your chain of command – or command assigned representatives (i.e. CMEO, Command Master Chief etc.)

      Keep in mind you are a part of a team, but you should not allow yourself, or anyone else on the team to become a doormat.

    • Rex

      Is making coffee really that big of a deal for you to do? Do you feel like its below you?

      If he’s making jokes about your ability to make coffee, ask what you can do to improve it.

      I would reccomend one of two things, talk to your Master Chief in priviate about how it makes you feel, or just grow some thick skin and get over it… its only coffee.

    • kevin

      NO! What he is doing is called personal servitude and is illegal, but also is very petty so seriously suck it up.

    • Brian

      can you say using your rank for personal gain. totally against the NCO creed

    • Manolo

      Adapt and overcome was the 20th century motto, I hear something about chits? The training you get in the Military will always be with you for the rest of your life. Make coffee like there is no tomorrow and when it comes time to re-enlist ask your self is this life for me?

    • Alf


    • Denver

      Having a lower ranking person make coffee every morning isn’t a big deal, if he ask him to make the coffee, but making the person make the coffee or yelling at him for not making the coffee is the wrong thing, I would refuse unless you like doing it. It is not the right thing to do to have a lower ranking make coffee for you.

    • Ricardo

      You should make a EO complaint about this. This is obviously a bulling situation. Don’t let this happend to you or any other person.

    • SFC Clayton Tolliver

      You Master Chief is guilty of “unprofessional conduct”, and “conduct unbecoming a Noncommissioned Officer”. Coffee is NOT, strictly speaking, a “mission essential item”. it is a personal luxury. This E-9 is ordering you to do something, that has EVERYTHING to do with his PERSONAL comfort,and nothing to do with the unit mission. Their conduct is unprofessional, and detrimental to “The Good Order and Discipline of the Service”. I SERIOUSLY recommend, that you contact your JAG, and discuss the matter with them. As a Senior NCO myself, and a 30 year veteran, I can tell you: What is being done to you, is illegal, unprofessional, immoral… In other words, “Complete BULLSHIT”.

  • Joe

    Talk to your commanding officer about it.

    • Chris

      Talking to the CO is not the answer. That would be chopping the legs off of all of the Marines legs that are directly above Lester. Go straight to the CO will only make everyone directly above him mad and will not end well for him/her.

  • Clark

    I see that this issue is almost 1 year old, but to aid any others that struggle with this kind of problem I will post anyway. Making coffee for your superior, to the best of my knowledge, is not a “lawful order” as it does not pertain or benefit the Army/Navy/Air Force/Marines. I would contact your local legal office or MEO for guidance on how to end this issue. Look into Artilce 93 for more information as to why this should not be happening.

  • Dean

    yes it is a “lawful order”…however, the way he acts can easily be handled by MEO or whatever they are calling it these days.

  • jake

    Some battles may not be worth fighting. The junior person in a shop/workgroup more than likely will be the one making coffee, taking out the trash or cleaning up around the office at the end of the day. Is it right? Probably not. Should something be done? Sure, but it is worth it?

    Eventually, someone junior will come along behind you and that responsibility will fall to them. It happens at almost every installation in the military. Do your job, do it will, and you will have nothing to worry about.

  • JP

    My commander has failed to provide me with any form of counciling in the past year. No initial, quarterly or other counciling has been provided. I am due an OER very soon and am concerned that this will directly effect my rating. I have been “black balled” by my CO since making first contact with him before joining the unit.

  • 1SG G

    As long as it is not illegal or immoral, it is a lawful order. Use your NOCO support chain / Chain of Command for advisement.

  • MT3

    You could always just make the coffee every morning. If that’s all you have to do to keep your command happy, you’ve get it very, very easy. Hell’ if i was in your position, I’d be overjoyed.

  • joe

    how about you just make the coffee. If you can’t follow an order as simple as that how can he expect you to handle any sort of responsibility

  • Kyle

    Well technically Making Coffee isnt a crime, So Its a lawful order, Looks like your making Coffee.

  • Brian

    Does it matter? YES! Try pulling that crap in the AF and it wouldn’t fly too far at all. Contact MEO if it persists.

  • Army Guy

    If a person wants coffee, they can make their own just the way they like it. You didn’t sign up to be a Barista, you signed up for the military. Do what your rank can handle, but I wouldn’t do it.

  • TSGT

    Make the coffee with 2 cups of grounds. it wont take long and you will not have to make it anymore. If they want coffee they can make it themselves. as far as you other indivisuals that say just make the coffee; Your a special kind of person

  • Sara

    first off, it is NOT a lawful order just because your superior tells you to make coffee. that is abuse of power in the chain of command. failure to obey a “lawful” order..keyword: LAWFUL. If it disrupts mission readiness and is a hazard to the safety and well being of the Command, as well as Big Navy, then it is a violation. A CO is not going to waste any time doing a mast for someone who refused to make coffee. that just doesnt make sense. i would go up the chain of command and voice your concern, if it is being rejected and ignored, then just continue to go higher until it is resolved.

  • MSgt Dan

    I can see this both ways. More than likely they are on this sailor is poor duty performance however, it is in poor judgment to be little anyone in a public venue. My suggestion would be one of 2 things. suck it up and make the coffee or suck it up and make really really strong coffee.. then when it is mentiononed how poor the coffee is ask for better directions and reflect that you drink ” maly coffee” although the comment may be sexist or not meet the needs of the new military your reprimand will definatly be short lived as it would embarrass the Master Chief

  • MSG Brumley (retired)

    A directive Making coffee is ‘personal servitude’ … period. It is illegal. It does not benefit the unit’s mission.

  • Bones

    What is truly disturbing about this thread is the time spent answering a very simple question, yet when an Enlisted troop is asked to make coffee at the direction of a Master Chief, his first thought is how do I get out of obeying an order rather than making the best damn coffee ever and/or delegating this simple task to a subordinate and showing some leadership of his/her own. If you as the Enlisted leader of 8 people is too busy to make coffee on the “drill” weekend, then delegate and move on. I’d like to see the courts martial reply to “Failure to Obey an Order” when the coffee is not made on-time. The issue here is not the coffee, it’s running to the UCMJ to fend off an “undesirable” leadership style. We don’t get to pick our leaders, we do, however, get to choose how we react. Grow-up, this stuff doesn’t fly in the active-duty Navy. You sound like a privileged baby.

  • Concerned sailor

    How or where would I find a military instruction on a direct and lawful order?

  • AF1

    It’s total bullshit. He’s abusing is position of authority. You should nail his ass!

  • B.J.

    I know this is old, but being told to make coffee is not a lawful order, but a direct order. Direct orders are provide for Day to Day operations, but are backed by lawful orders, like an SOP. However, I would argue that this direct order could fall into the category of personal servitude, and the actions of the Master Cheif would be considered hazing.

  • Dirk

    Make Navy coffee- add a little salt water to it.

  • Chief R. Padilla

    If you put a drop of Hydraulic Fluid in it, it will clean out his pipes. He will never ask you to make the coffee again. This happened to me when I was an E-5 on duty and the SDO Lt. Scube ordered me to make coffee. I told him I shouldn’t make since I didn’t drink it. He Ordered me again, so I made it and it was as thick as Molasses. The CO had his morning cup and said that I was never to make coffee again. The SDO cursed at me and said that he would get me back, he never did. The same way I didn’t pick up cigarettes butts, I didn’t smoke so why should I pick them up.

  • Jeremy

    I’d make the coffee so bad no one would want to drink it.

  • matt

    I actually had this exact same thing happen to me while on active duty. I told him to his face I didn’t drink coffee and to make it himself. If you don’t have the stones to stand up to him,,, put laxative in it for a few days. they’ll stop asking you to make it.

  • Calbeck


    > Any person subject to this chapter who is guilty of cruelty toward, or oppression or maltreatment of, any person subject to his orders shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

    Given appropriate record of a confirmed pattern of abusive behavior by the Master Chief, it appears that a courts-martial would be in line.

    “Why” should be obvious: destruction of morale for personal pleasure or gain is harmful to the benefit of the Armed Services, unprofessional, and unbecoming of anyone in a command position.

  • SGT T

    Just make the coffee. You’re going to do a lot of things in your career or in life for goodness sake that you will feel are beneath you. YOU DO IT FOR THE SANCTITY OF GOOD ORDER AND DISCIPLINE. I was in a position like that once before, I just kept making the worlds worse coffee and over time they just stopped asking me to make it. However, no subordinates or senior personnel should be humiliating you at all. If you feel that strongly about it, then you should bring it up to your COC. If all else fails, then use your E9 or bring it up to the CDR so you can resolve the issue about the jokes.

  • john

    Actually making coffee is not a “lawful order”
    It’s a personal favor and has nothing to do with fufilling a mission.

  • 1stSgt

    A senior making a junior make coffee is piss poor leadership. It is personal servitude, plain and simple.

  • corporal behnke, mchael a US ARMY POW

    I think your humor is quite engaging.Unfortunately i wish making coffee and answering to some stupid jar head for chewing me out was of concern to me. the most i ever had to do was try to figure out intelligence reports and explain to my chain of command that i have several rfid chips lodged in my head and chest from a supply mix up, and attacks on post in a foreign country, and shouldn’t be in service, at the time i was one of the four cooks feeding my battalion, having six nco’s yell at me for no reason while i was trying to work, and was getting ready to deploy, and cant be around jamming equipment for obvious reasons. for the last seven years i have been trying to explain to the department of defense that home again pet recovery systems technology once classified does exist and despite the computer age of automatically encrypting MRI’s that i need a cardiothorasic and neurosurgeon not a psychologist and a job.

  • John G

    It is a lawful order, HOWEVER it’s “Servitude” which is unlawful. If it’s really got you that angry you have to do it first that way you will be hit for faliure to follow an order. Then report it the EO. Lastly, be careful, cause I’ve been a Marine for 10yrs, and I guarntee you running this up the chain will in fact fix it, but a the games could begin……

  • active duty

    seriously? you can’t even hack it as a weekend warrior making coffee??? Seems like you just want to complain. Go fill out a hurt feelings chit.

  • Reserve

    I was informed by my platoon sgt. And a remindered by my squad leader to submit a letter every week but i have so much to do and forgot to do it. Would it be under this ucmj?

  • sgt collins

    I used to be navy reserve sailor and a active duty sailor before switching to the army- no matter the branch- i had my butt chewed out for using a govt travel card off orders had to go see the captain- i could have gotten thrown out the navy for it but they chose not to- i was ordered to pay it off to a zero balance- i never done that again- the military dont play disobeying an order-im dam lucky to retire with all the butt chewings i took even was demoted once in iraq- well not getting into details the commander gave it back to me after 2months of good behavior.

  • Soldier

    Listen battle buddies. Making coffee is a stupid thing to argue about, yes. So is the fact that obviously he doesn’t want to do it. But on the other hand if I was in his shoes and my superior openly insulted me and belittled me in front of my juniors and my seniors I would first talk to him privately about it. If his disgraceful behvior continued I would report his a** as far up as the chain of command would listen because no matter what your rank no one has any right to degrade you for any reason. Do as your told and make the coffee. Make it well so they know you take your job seriously and can accomplish even the menial tasks. If he doesn’t like how you make coffee oh well sucks to be him he is not the one making it. As a side note those of you who are insulting this sailor simply because he is in the reserves you are wrong. I may be a little rusty on some policys but I’m pretty sure we cannot discrimate for any reason at all. All I care about as far as active, reserves, whatever is whether or not you have my back when we are in combat. I don’t care if you train everyday or once a year as long as you can perform your duties and not bring my team down.

  • KindaOldSalt

    I definitely understand where this young sailor is coming from. I had that problem when I joined in the early 90s. BUt I didn’t bitch about it. My first Chief had me make coffee for him every morning, I told him I didn’t drink coffee and didn’t think it was fair for it to always be me doing it, needless to say, that didn’t help anything. Back then, we weren’t so kind and gentle. All it took was filling up the coffee pot at the faucet on the back of the island where the urinal was and magically, I was never asked to make coffee again. No I didn’t piss in it, but he though I might have because someone told him where I was getting the water from, gotta love out of the box thinking…….

  • stephen

    make the coffee really really sucky and bland…and keep doing this until he doesn’t want you to make coffee anymore.

  • AmericasTOPatriot

    I tell you what. When I was told”commanded” “ordered” to do odd things from a higher ranking individual I never considered it legal or not legal. I just tried to do it my best like shining brass all day hoping not to get yelled at. I got eventually assaulted by a BMMC in the command. That sucked. I was a young kid serving honorably. I was discharged honorably. I just can not imagine at that time arguing or disobeying because I thought it personal Servitude in the Middle of the OCEAN on a combat ship. It was all about team in my head and “accomplishment of mission” sort of like just doing what you would do for friends. But otherwise, I am not reading regs. I am reading UCMJ. I am reading USCODE. I am now realizing how much is written and how much is not followed. And because it is not followed well ..what can I say…?

    One question I have is this. It has been over 15 years since I was on that SHIP. I am trying to recall how often guys would not accept an order or work assignment when it came from a different department and or rate? I remember that departments kept to themselves like the BMs did not follow orders or answer too the Chief of lets say Personel or Shopkeepers or any other rate for that matter if they asked for assistance in a working party. That seemed to be the going memory of disobeying orders lawfully out of their rate description. Is my memory correct?

  • Thomas More

    There are asses at all ranks of government. The chances are good that you’ll run into more than a few when you’re serving in the military. I surely did. In Vietnam, most of these ass types chilled because draftees had low tolerance for BS. Back then I would have pissed in the coffee, but now I’d just make the damned coffee as good as I knew how. If I got chewed out, I’d ask for guidance as to how I’ve erred. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. until the ass gets tired of you’re being his whipping boy.

    I’d also send an anonymous letter to the ass’s CO telling the CO about the lack of leadership on the ass’s part (his berating of subordinates). The CO may say he discounts anonymous letters, but it will certainly come to his mind every time he sees the ass. And, you will know that you did take some action that may cause the ass to chill and make his own coffee — saving the next possible whipping boy from experiences like yours.

  • John

    Shut your fucking pie hole and make the coffee you nasty ass reservist.

  • clark

    Okay so i am in a bit of trouble and i know i was wrong but know i am seeking answers, me and my superviser who is also is an e4 got into a heated argument having more of me yelling cause yes i was upset, and the chief decided to invole himself in it and told me i was wrong and ect. i did not talk over him though he is saying i was all i did was say something after he was done then he started tlking again and said i was talking over him, sigh i was upset by this point and he was done talking and he told me not to leave out the room pouting but i was starting to cry and wanted to go to the restroom so well i left and he yelled at me to get back and i was already half way down the hall and crying and said no, he is now writting a report chit and i dont know how this is going to go…anyone able to tell me whats going to happen?

  • curmudgeon

    I think it’s time to grow up — and I am talking to the Master Chief more than the sailor.

    In the Army we have a term “toxic leadership” which was status quo in the 1980s, but gets people fired these days. ADP 6-22 describes it thus:

    Toxic leadership is a combination of self-centered attitudes, motivations, and behaviors that have adverse effects on subordinates, the organization, and mission performance. This leader lacks concern for others and the climate of the organization, which leads to short- and long-term negative effects. The toxic leader operates with an inflated sense of self-worth and from acute self-interest. Toxic leaders consistently use dysfunctional behaviors to deceive, intimidate, coerce, or unfairly punish others to get
    what they want for themselves. The negative leader completes short-term requirements by operating at the bottom of the continuum of commitment, where followers respond to the positional power of their leader to fulfill requests. This may achieve results in the short term, but ignores the other leader competency categories of leads and develops. Prolonged use of negative leadership to influence followers undermines the followers’ will, initiative, and potential and destroys unit morale.

  • brittney

    I’m on a carrier and they are forcing air department to get their air pin. They are not letting people live in military housing OR go on leave if they are ding and or don’t have it. They are also now handing out SP evaluations to people who are up for re enlistment (making them unable to re enlist and become forced out of the navy) is a his even legal? What can be done? One 9 The Sailors That Just Left Was A good sailor no captains mass or anything and then gets thrown out with an SP? Can they take our benefits?

  • Paul

    Just invest in a cheap/used Keurig for your command and replace the coffee pot with it.

  • Rud

    1st: You are making coffee for a group of personnel, and normally based your rank most of your duties would be directly associated with that.

    2nd: As an enlisted soldier myself, we function as a team and task are handed out to ensure that team represents the Noncommissioned Officers Corp. Enlisted do jobs sometimes that seem parochial and unimportant. We do them as long as the are lawful and moral. This task, that supports a group, seems to fit that criteria.

  • crashjensen

    Oh yeah there are AL kinds of dumb pricks who think that every word coming out of that suck hole under there nose is an order and must be followed, if I were u I would look up article 138 of the UCMJ abuse of power. And they are not allowed to have you do any kind of personal servatude, everyone should take their turn. Sounds like your superiors need to re read the leadership manual again .

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