Duration of Article 15 on Your Military Record: Know the Facts

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Facing an Article 15 can be a daunting experience, and you’re likely concerned about its long-term impact on your military career. It’s crucial to understand the ramifications of this non-judicial punishment and how it can affect your future.

You’re not alone in wondering about the longevity of an Article 15 on your record. The answer isn’t always straightforward, as several factors come into play. Let’s dig into the specifics to clear up any confusion you might have.

What is an Article 15?

When you’re serving in the military, understanding the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is crucial as it outlines lawful orders and decrees the procedures for military discipline and justice. Article 15 of this code refers to the non-judicial punishment (NJP) mechanism used by commanders. It allows military commanders to resolve allegations of minor misconduct against a service member without resorting to more severe judicial proceedings like a court-martial.

An Article 15 hearing is less formal than a court-martial and does not constitute a criminal conviction. However, it can still have significant repercussions on your military career. Under an Article 15, various punishments can be imposed, ranging from extra duties to reduction in rank, confinement to quarters, or even loss of pay. It’s important to note that you have the right to refuse an Article 15 and demand a trial by court-martial, though this involves risks of more severe penalties if convicted.

Here are some critical points about an Article 15:

  • It’s a tool for commanders to maintain good order and discipline within the ranks.
  • Accepting an Article 15 is not an admission of guilt, but it does forego the right to a court-martial.
  • The range of punishments is broad and directly tied to the commander’s discretion.
  • The proceedings are administrative, and the standard of proof is lower than in a criminal trial.

The way an Article 15 affects your record can vary. In some cases, the record of it can follow you within your military career, impacting promotions and assignments. The specifics of how long it stays on your record depend on the service branch and other factors, which means staying informed about your particular situation and military branch’s policies is vital for your career. Understanding Article 15 and the implications of accepting such punishment is the first step to making an informed decision should you ever face one.

How does an Article 15 impact your military career?

Receiving an Article 15 can have immediate and long-term effects on your military career. When facing non-judicial punishment, it’s essential to recognize the potential career implications.

Promotions and Advancements may stall or be delayed. Superiors have access to your disciplinary records when considering you for promotion, and an Article 15 can be a significant strike against you. With a competitive field, even minor infractions can become obstacles to moving up the ranks.

Your Reenlistment Eligibility can also be at stake. An Article 15 might lead to a reenlistment code that is less favorable, making it more difficult for you to continue your service. In some cases, this could bar you from reenlistment altogether.

Certain Training Opportunities and Assignments could become inaccessible to you. High-profile positions or specialized training programs often require a clean record, so an Article 15 could close those doors, limiting your career development opportunities within the military.

There are other key considerations:

  • Security Clearances might be revoked or denied. Security clearances are vital for many positions in the military. A recorded Article 15 could raise questions about your reliability and trustworthiness, which are crucial for sensitive roles.
  • Your Permanent Service Record will reflect the Article 15. This might influence decisions related to your assignments and duties. Moreover, this could follow you into civilian life, impacting post-military employment, especially in defense-related industries.
  • Benefits such as the GI Bill could be impacted by the characterization of service upon separation. An Article 15 might play a role in the determination process, potentially affecting the benefits you’re eligible for.

Addressing an Article 15 proactively by having a clear understanding of both short and long-term repercussions is critical. Engaging with legal counsel and familiarizing yourself with the appeals process could prove beneficial. Seeking advice from experienced personnel who understand military law and regulations will support navigating through these challenges. Keep in mind that each branch of the military has its own specific policies and repercussions, so accurate information regarding your circumstances is key.

How long does an Article 15 stay on your record?

Dealing with an Article 15 can be daunting, and one of your primary concerns might be how long it will impact your military record. The duration of an Article 15 on a service member’s record is not set in stone and varies based on several factors.

In most cases, if you’re an enlisted member, an Article 15 will remain in your military personnel file (MPF) for a certain period. For officers, it’s documented in the Officer Selection Record. Whether or not and how long an Article 15 stays on your record depend on the severity of the offense and the discretion of the commanding officer.

For less serious offenses, an Article 15 might be filed in your local personnel file. These local files are typically reviewed and possibly destroyed after a predetermined period, which could range from one to two years, or whenever you transfer to a different unit, unless there are reasons to retain the record.

On the other hand, more severe cases may warrant filing the Article 15 in your Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). If it’s placed in your OMPF, the Article 15 will likely be part of your permanent military record, which can follow you throughout your military career and even after you leave the service.

Here’s a quick rundown of the standard retention periods in the OMPF based on the rank of the service member at the time of the Article 15 proceedings:

Enlisted Member’s Rank Retention Period in OMPF
E1 to E3 Up to 2 years
E4 to E6 Up to 4 years
E7 and above Indefinite

These retention periods can heavily influence your career progress and eligibility for various programs and benefits. It’s vital to actively manage your military career and familiarize yourself with the processes to mitigate the impact of an Article 15. This includes staying up-to-date with policies that may shift over time and exploring options for appealing or expunging the record if appropriate. Remember, the specifics can vary depending on the branch of the military, so check the regulations that apply to your situation.

Factors that can affect the duration of an Article 15 on your record

Several factors can influence how long an Article 15 will remain part of your military service record. Understanding these can help you gauge the implications for your career and post-military opportunities.

Severity of the Offense: The nature and seriousness of the misconduct are pivotal. Minor infractions may only stay on record for a limited time, while more serious offenses can linger longer, potentially impacting your record indefinitely.

Branch-Specific Regulations: Each branch of the military has its policies. You’ll need to check with your branch’s guidelines, as the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps might have different rules that affect retention periods of an Article 15.

Commander’s Discretion: Your commanding officer has significant influence over your case. Depending on their assessment of your actions and character, they might decide to expunge the record sooner or retain it for a longer period.

Factor Potential Impact on Article 15 Duration
Severity of Offense Direct correlation to the length
Branch Regulations Determines baseline retention periods
Commander’s Discretion Can shorten or extend the duration

Personal Behavior Following the Incident: Your conduct after receiving an Article 15 matters. Demonstrating professionalism and improved behavior can lead to a more favorable view from your superiors and might accelerate the removal of the record.

Repeated Offenses: If you commit further infractions, expect your current Article 15 to stay on your record longer. Repeat offenses signal a pattern of behavior unbecoming of service members, thereby extending the duration of the record’s retention.

Performing admirably after the incident and showing a commitment to military values are proactive steps that may help you influence the duration of an Article 15 on your record. Stay informed and remain mindful of the actions that might change the trajectory of your military career.

Can you remove an Article 15 from your record?

The potential to expunge an Article 15 from your military record hinges on several factors, and understanding the nuances of this process is critical for you. Generally, the ability to remove an Article 15 varies by service branch and the level of non-judicial punishment received.

For Minor Offenses, if the Article 15 was a company-grade punishment, you might have greater success petitioning for its removal. Company-grade Article 15s are typically less severe and may be removed from your record upon reassignment or at the discretion of your commanding officer.

In the case of a Field-Grade Article 15, removal becomes more complex due to its heightened seriousness. These are usually retained in your Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) for longer periods. However, a process does exist through the Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR). When you pursue this route, you’ll need to:

  • Submit a formal application
  • Provide compelling evidence
  • Clearly illustrate why the original decision might have been unjust or improperly recorded

Keep in mind that the BCMR process is neither swift nor guaranteed. Your case should present substantial evidence or a credible argument that justifies altering the existing record.

Maintaining immaculate conduct after receiving an Article 15 is paramount. High standards of behavior post-infraction can bolster your case when seeking record modifications. Your commitment to improvement and adherence to military ethics could serve as persuasive arguments during your appeal.

Documentation and Timing are also crucible elements. Submitting requests promptly and providing detailed, accurate information can enhance the credibility of your application. As each branch has its own regulations, you must thoroughly research and adhere to specific guidelines provided by your respective branch.

Leadership endorsements can be influential. Obtaining support from superiors acknowledging your professional growth and rectitude since the Article 15 occurred may tip the scales in your favor.

Remember, the viability of removing an Article 15 from your record depends heavily on the circumstances surrounding the original offense and your subsequent actions. Constant vigilance and a proactive stance are essential in navigating this intricate process.


Understanding how long an Article 15 may linger on your record is crucial for your military career. Remember, your actions post-incident and the severity of the offense play pivotal roles in determining its lifespan. It’s essential to uphold military values and professionalism, as these factors could sway the decision when seeking to expunge the record. Stay informed of your branch’s regulations and seize control where you can, whether it’s through exemplary conduct or by pursuing formal removal procedures. Your commitment to rectifying the situation and aligning with leadership can make a significant difference. Keep striving for excellence and know that your efforts to maintain a clean record are within your grasp.


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