Army Senior Leader Misconduct

Army Senior Leader Misconduct

June 4, 2024

Army Senior Leader Misconduct, contrary to popular belief, is not addressed under a single uniform policy.  For example, neither AR 600-20 nor AR 27-10, provide any specifics regarding Army Senior Leader Misconduct.

Instead, each installation typically implements their own Army Senior Leader Misconduct Policy.  These policies, while all slightly different, have similar provisions. Typically, "Senior Leader" is defined as 1SG and above. That includes all MSGs serving in a 1SG position, all SGMs/CSMs, and all Officers and Warrant Officers of any rank. That said, some policies also include all MSGs, even those not in 1SG positions.

The first common component of Army Senior Leader Misconduct Policies is a "withholding policy" that requires the Commanding General to be informed about all allegations made against Senior Leaders. Furthermore, withholding policies also typically require the Commanding General to either take action, not take action, or delegate the ability to take action, against any Army Senior Leader.  The following is provided as an example:

A 2LT is arrested for getting into a fight at a local bar. Under the Senior Leader Misconduct Policy, the Commanding General has to be informed about the allegation.  The Command then appoints a AR 15-6 Investigation. The investigation concludes and the IO determines that the 2LT was the aggressor in the fight.  The 2LT's Brigade Commander is then required to send the investigation to the Commanding General, with a recommendation on what to do.  At that point, the Commanding General can then decide to take action at his level, such as a GOMOR or an Article 15. The Commanding General can also decide to take no action and close the case out at his level (not common). Finally, the Commanding General could send the case back down to the Brigade Commander and allow the Brigade Commander to take action at his/her level. In this case, the Brigade Commander could issued a referred OER, an Article 15, a letter of concern, or close the case out and decide to do nothing.

Again, Army Senior Leader Misconduct Policies vary from installation to installation, but typically have similar provisions.  The primary difference that Attorney Barry has noticed relates to the approval of adverse findings made against Senior Leaders. Some installations require the Commanding General to approve adverse findings from a 15-6 investigation relating to a Senior Leader. Other installations allow a lower level Commander, such as a Battalion or Brigade Commander, to approve adverse findings from a 15-6 investigation relating to a Senior Leader. In those cases, the Commanding General still likely has a "withholding policy" as described above.

Because of the added visibility that allegations made against Army Senior Leaders get, any allegation puts his/her career immediately in jeopardy. Lower level Commanders lose power to apply discretion, and more severe adverse actions are often taken.  Proper and effective legal representation at any point in the process is vital to saving a Senior Leader's career after an allegation is made against him/her. While Trial Defense Services (TDS) is available, they are inexperienced and often over-worked. They are also unlikely to provide the time and attention needed to save a Senior Leader's career.  All Soldiers are entitled to Civilian Representation, including Senior Leaders.

This article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry.

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