Is an Article 15 Permanent? Military Record Impacts Explained

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If you’ve faced non-judicial punishment under Article 15, you’re likely concerned about its impact on your future. It’s a common worry: will this mark tarnish your record permanently? Understanding the longevity of an Article 15 can help you navigate your career with confidence.

The military’s disciplinary actions can be complex, and the repercussions of an Article 15 vary. It’s crucial to know what to expect and how it could affect your opportunities down the line. Let’s dive into the details and shed light on the shadows cast by Article 15 on your military record.

What is Article 15?

Understanding Article 15 is critical if you’re facing or trying to comprehend military disciplinary actions. Often referred to as Nonjudicial Punishment (NJP), Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) allows commanders to administratively discipline troops without a court-martial. The aim is to handle minor offenses swiftly and directly within the unit.

There are several key factors you should know about Article 15 procedures:

  • Offenses typically range from absent without leave (AWOL) to insubordination and drug possession.
  • Commanders have the discretion to decide whether an offense should be tried by a court-martial or handled under Article 15.
  • Troops have the right to accept or refuse Article 15 and demand a trial by court-martial instead.

Penalties under Article 15 can include a reprimand, extra duties, restriction to certain areas, loss of pay, and reduction in rank. Importantly, even if you’re punished under Article 15, you are not considered to have a criminal conviction; however, the punishment will be part of your service record.

Who Can Impose an Article 15?

In the chain of command, typically your company-level or field-grade officers have the authority to impose an Article 15. Company-grade Article 15s are limited to soldiers in the ranks of O-3 (captain) and below, and include lighter punishments, whereas field-grade Article 15s can be more severe and apply to those up to the O-4 (major) level.

The Impact of an Article 15 on Military Career

An Article 15’s impact on your career can vary:

  • Some service members recover and continue their military careers without significant impact.
  • However, a record of Article 15 can hamper promotional opportunities and may lead to administrative separations or affect security clearances.

A clear understanding of Article 15 helps you anticipate and navigate its implications. Remember, while the immediate consequences may seem surmountable, the long-term effects on your military career can be significant and enduring.

How long does Article 15 stay on your record?

When you’re facing or have received an Article 15, it’s natural to wonder about the long-term implications, especially regarding how long the punishment will reflect on your military record. The duration depends on the level at which the punishment was imposed and the nature of the offense.

For company-level Article 15s, which are often for less serious offenses, the records typically don’t follow you to your next duty station. They are usually filed in your military unit’s files and maintained only for the duration of your assignment to that unit. However, this isn’t set in stone and may vary depending on your Command’s policy. In most cases, company-level Article 15s will be destroyed upon your transfer or within two years if you remain at the same duty station.

On the other hand, field-grade Article 15s are more severe and are filed in your Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). This means they have a longer-lasting impact, and the record of this level of NJP can follow you throughout your military career.

Type of Article 15 Duration in Record
Company-Level Until transfer or up to two years
Field-Grade Indefinite, can follow through military career

Keep in mind that the retention of NJP records in your OMPF signifies that it will be visible during any review of your military service. This includes reviews associated with promotions, security clearances, and even potential reenlistment.

Although some NJP records may not permanently influence your career trajectory, the specifics of your situation matter immensely. It’s also worth noting that under certain circumstances, you might be able to petition for the removal of an Article 15 from your personal record. This process typically requires the submission of a request through military channels, and success hinges on demonstrating compelling reasons for the expungement of the record.

Understanding how to navigate the aftermath of an Article 15 and being aware of the documentation procedures can be crucial in managing its impact on your military career progression.

Impact of Article 15 on your military career

When faced with an Article 15, it’s essential to recognize the potential repercussions beyond immediate punishment. Long-term effects may influence various facets of your military journey.

Promotions hinge heavily on your record, and an Article 15 could paint a picture of indiscipline or unreliability. Senior leadership meticulously scrutinizes personnel files when considering candidates for advancement. A tarnished record can significantly diminish your chances in a competitive selection process.

Your security clearance is another critical area that might be affected by an Article 15. With national security at stake, evaluators are particularly cautious about who is granted access to sensitive information. A history of misconduct can raise doubts about one’s judgment and trustworthiness, potentially leading to denial or revocation of clearance.

Reenlistment opportunities can also be at risk, as the military screens for individuals who exemplify commitment and adherence to regulations. An Article 15 on your record can signal a liability, leading to a potentially unfavorable reenlistment code on your discharge papers. Such codes are red flags during the reenlistment process and can bar you from transitioning to a different branch or returning to service.

Moreover, it’s crucial to consider the impact on your reputation within the ranks. Military cohesion relies on respect and trust, and a blemish like an Article 15 might undermine your standing among peers and superiors, affecting daily interactions and opportunities for leadership roles.

While the severity of an Article 15’s impact can vary, it’s evident that this punitive action carries weight. Remaining aware of these consequences allows you to make informed decisions and take steps necessary to mitigate potential damage. Striving for excellence and maintaining a clean record should be of utmost priority if you aim to secure a prosperous military career.

Can Article 15 be removed from your record?

If you’re grappling with the consequences of a Nonjudicial Punishment, you might be wondering if there’s any way to clear your military record. The short answer is yes, an Article 15 can be removed, but it’s not guaranteed and involves a well-defined process. You may petition for removal through what’s known as the Military Records Correction Boards.

To initiate a request for expungement, you’ll need compelling evidence that the NJP was unjust or improperly recorded. Supporting documentation is essential to strengthen your case. This could include affidavits from witnesses, character references, or proof of procedural errors.

There are a few key steps you’ll follow to petition:

  • Submit DD Form 149, the Application for Correction of Military Records.
  • Clearly explain the reasons for your request.
  • Attach all necessary documentation.

It’s vital to note that time is of the essence. The sooner you apply after the NJP, the better your chances of success. Requests are typically reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and the board’s decision hinges on the notion of equity and justice. If the board finds merit in your petition, it can recommend the expungement of the Article 15 from your record.

Remember that the presence of an Article 15 might affect current and future military engagements, so it’s advisable to act swiftly if you believe your NJP was unjust. However, the decision to remove the record rests solely with the military corrections board, and their determination is final.

It’s also worth considering the assistance of a Military Law Attorney. Skilled legal representation can guide you through the nuances of your petition, significantly increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome. With experienced counsel, your case can be presented in the most persuasive light before the board.


Understanding the implications of Article 15 on your military record is crucial for your career. You’ve seen how NJP can affect your promotional prospects and security clearance. While company-level Article 15s may not follow you long-term, field-grade infractions can be a different story. Remember, although it’s challenging, you have the option to petition for the removal of an Article 15 from your record. It’s important to act quickly and leverage the expertise of a Military Law Attorney to bolster your case. Your future in the military may hinge on the actions you take to mitigate the impact of an Article 15, so make sure you’re informed and proactive in addressing any issues that arise.


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