Can Article 15s Be Removed? Understanding Military Record Policies

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Facing an Article 15 can feel like a career-defining moment in the military. You’re probably wondering if this mark on your record is a permanent shadow or if there’s a chance for it to fade away.

The answer isn’t straightforward, as it hinges on various factors like the severity of the offense and the decisions made by your command. But don’t let uncertainty bog you down; understanding the nuances of military records could help you navigate your future in the armed forces.

Knowing the potential long-term impacts of an Article 15 is crucial, whether you’re planning to stay in uniform or transition to civilian life. Stick around as we delve into the details of how Article 15s are recorded and what that means for your military career trajectory.

What is an Article 15?

When you’re in the military, understanding the disciplinary measures is crucial. An Article 15, also known as nonjudicial punishment, is a disciplinary action that your commanding officer can take for alleged minor misconduct under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This procedure allows for a swift and fair resolution without the need to go through a formal court-martial.

The proceedings under Article 15 offer a more relaxed legal standard than a court-martial. You have certain rights during this process, including the right to know the charges, the right to a spokesperson or attorney, the right to see the evidence, and the right to present your side of the story. However, it’s important to note that the atmosphere is less formal and it’s largely your commanding officer who hears the case and decides your fate.

Consequences of receiving an Article 15 can vary and may include extra duties, reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay, or restrictions. The type of punishment depends on the severity of the offense and your record. While this might seem daunting, remember that Article 15s are not considered convictions and thus have a different weight when it comes to long-term impacts on your military career.

The impact of an Article 15 on your military record can be varied. A lot depends on whether your command decides to file it in your Military Personnel Record Jacket (MPRJ) or your Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). The MPRJ is more temporary and local to your unit, while the OMPF follows you throughout your military career. Knowing which file your Article 15 ends up in is key, as it determines who can see it and when it might be removed.

While many might fear the immediate repercussions of an Article 15, it’s equally important to be aware of the repercussion management options available to you. These can include submitting a rebuttal, appealing the decision, or seeking clemency, which may help mitigate or reverse some of the disciplinary measures taken. Knowledge is power, and your awareness of these elements is essential to managing your military career effectively.

The Types of Article 15s

When you’re facing an Article 15, it’s crucial to understand that there are different types that vary based on your command level and can influence how it’s recorded and viewed. These types are summarized as Summarized, Company grade, and Field grade Article 15s.

Summarized Article 15 is the least severe form. In this case, your commanding officer has streamlined authority to impose punishment without a formal hearing. You won’t face a reduction in rank here, but punishments might include extra duties or restrictions for up to 14 days.

Company Grade Article 15s involve minor offenses and are handled within your company by a company commander. The consequences can be more significant than those of a summarized Article 15 and may include:

  • Reduction in rank for E-4 and below
  • Up to 14 days of extra duties
  • Restrictions up to 14 days
  • Forfeiture of half a month’s pay for one month

Field Grade Article 15s are more severe and are dealt with by a field grade officer, typically a battalion commander or higher. The penalties often include:

  • Reduction of one or more ranks for E-5 and above
  • Up to 45 days of extra duties
  • Restrictions up to 60 days
  • Forfeiture of half a month’s pay for two months

Understanding the type of Article 15 you’re dealing with helps you grasp the potential impact on your military record. Keeping this information in mind, you’ll be better prepared to make informed decisions about how to respond to the charge and manage its effects on your career trajectory. Remember, each type dictates not just the immediate consequences but also how the Article 15 will enter and possibly leave your military record.

How Article 15s are Recorded

When you’re facing an Article 15, it’s crucial to know how these infractions are documented within your military record. Article 15s are recorded differently based on their severity level and the particular branch of service you’re in.

For Summarized Article 15s, the recording process is more informal. The outcome of these cases is typically documented in unit files and doesn’t necessarily follow you if you transfer to a different unit. However, the documentation within your unit can affect local promotion considerations and assignments.

In the case of Company and Field Grade Article 15s, the recording procedure becomes more formal. These infractions are entered into your Official Military Personnel File (OMPF), making them a part of your permanent military record. Within the OMPF, these entries can influence your career advancements and opportunities for several years.

It’s important to note how these records might affect future background checks:

  • Security Clearances: A Field Grade Article 15 could be scrutinized during the clearance review process.
  • Civilian Employment: Military records can be considered if you’re seeking employment that requires a history check.

Here’s a quick reference on the documentation of Article 15s:

Type of Article 15 Documentation Location Impact Duration
Summarized Unit Files Short-Term
Company Grade OMPF Long-Term
Field Grade OMPF Long-Term

Keep in mind that while Summarized Article 15s may not follow you to another unit, they’re not entirely without impact, especially if you remain within the same unit for an extended period. Company and Field Grade Article 15s, being part of your permanent record, have the potential to influence your military career considerably more.

Understanding the recording nuances of each Article 15 type empowers you to anticipate potential repercussions and strategize accordingly, ensuring that you’re well-prepared for any questions about your service record.

Can an Article 15 be Removed from Your Record?

Navigating the complexities of military records is no easy feat, especially when dealing with Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP) like Article 15s. You might be wondering if it’s possible to remove an Article 15 from your military record. The answer isn’t straightforward and varies depending on the type and impact of the Article 15 you’ve received.

Possibility of Removal

For Summarized Article 15s, there’s typically more leniency. Because these records are kept in unit files, they don’t automatically transition with you if you move to another unit. Therefore, they may become less visible over time. It’s also possible for commands to remove them from unit files at their discretion, particularly if you’ve shown exemplary behavior since the incident.

When it comes to Company and Field Grade Article 15s, removal from your Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) is significantly more challenging. These records are meant to be a permanent reflection of your military conduct. However, there are processes in place that allow for appeals or records to be corrected under certain circumstances, such as the Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR).

Application Process

If you’re considering applying for the removal of an Article 15, here’s what you need to know:

  • Timing Is Crucial: You generally have a limited time after the Article 15 was imposed to submit an appeal. Be prompt in your actions.
  • Document Your Case: Gather all relevant evidence and documents that support why the Article 15 should be removed.
  • Legal Consultation: Obtaining legal advice can be highly beneficial as military lawyers understand the nuanced processes and can help build a strong case.

Applying for removal or correction is a rigorous process — it requires a detailed application and compelling justification for the change. Success rates for removal vary, but it’s certainly worth the effort if you believe your record does not accurately reflect your service.

Factors that Influence the Disposition of an Article 15

When you’re grappling with the realities of an Article 15 on your military record, understanding the factors that can influence its disposition is crucial. The existence and implications of an Article 15 on your record hinge on several key components.

Firstly, the level of your Article 15—Summarized, Company, or Field Grade—plays a significant role. Summarized Article 15s typically do not have the same lasting impact as those of a higher grade, and you may find that these are removed or become non-visible in your Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) over time.

In contrast, Company and Field Grade Article 15s require direct action for removal. These types of actions inherently carry more weight and thus are more difficult to have expunged. They are intended to reflect more serious infractions and tend to remain on your record unless you take steps to challenge them.

The command’s discretion also significantly affects the persistence of an Article 15 on your record. Your command has the autonomy to decide if a Summarized Article 15 should be filed or not. In some cases, it may be removed from unit files, but this decision is entirely at their behest.

The nature of the misconduct that led to the Article 15 is another determining factor. Severity and the circumstances surrounding the incident are assessed when considering the removal of the record. If the offense was minor and out of character, it could bolster your argument for removal.

Lastly, how long the Article 15 has been on your record can influence its removal. As time passes, certain infractions may be deemed less relevant, especially if your conduct has been exemplary since the infraction.

Remember, each branch of the military may have slightly different protocols and timeframes for dealing with Article 15s, and it’s important to keep abreast of the latest guidelines and policies. Always ensure that you have the most current information on how your specific branch handles these records.

Seeking legal advice from a military law attorney can provide personalized insights tailored to your situation. Professionals in this field can offer strategic approaches to improve the likelihood of a favorable outcome in removing or reducing the visibility of an Article 15 on your record.


Understanding the nuances of military records is key when dealing with an Article 15. Remember, your actions and the specifics of the incident will significantly impact the outcome. Staying informed about your branch’s policies and seeking expert legal advice are your best bets for navigating this challenge. Stay proactive and informed to manage your military record effectively.


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