Army Reserve Officer Eliminations

Army Reserve Officer Eliminations

June 29, 2024

Army Reserve Officer Eliminations are governed by AR 135-175, available at this link.   This article is meant to address involuntary separations.

Army Reserve Officer Eliminations can be initiated by the following entities: The Secretary of the Army/Chief of Staff, The Surgeon General/TJAG/Chief of Chaplains for their respective branches, The DCS G-1 upon the recommendation of a promotion board, the General Officer Show Cause Authority (GOSCA), or the professor of military science (PMS) for certain Officers.  Of note, the Reserves have a special policy that any GOMOR filed in the AMHRR of an Officer results in the initiation of elimination, no matter the circumstance.

Reserve Officers can face elimination for many reasons; however, the most common reasons are the following:

a. Downward trend in overall performance resulting in an unacceptable record of efficiency or a consistent record of mediocre service.

b. Failure to keep pace or to progress with contemporaries, such as successive promotion failures or a low record of efficiency when compared with other officers of the same grade, branch, and length of service.

c. Failure to exercise necessary leadership or command required of an officer of his or her grade.

d. Failure to perform with the technical proficiency required by the grade held.

e. Failure to meet standards in a course of instruction at a Service school due to academic or leadership deficiencies.

f. Failure to properly discharge assignments commensurate with his or her grade and experience.

g. Apathy, defective attitude, or other character deficiency, including inability or unwillingness to expend effort.

h. Failure to achieve satisfactory progress after a period of 6 months after enrollment in the Army Body Composition Program or failure to maintain the weight/body fat standards established under the provisions of AR 600–9 during the 12-month period following removal from an established body composition program. Involuntary separation action will be initiated, except that officers with a remaining statutory or contractual service obligation will be involuntarily transferred to the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) under the provisions of AR 140–10.

i. When no medical problems exist, and an officer has two consecutive failures of the APFT, separation action will be initiated.

j. Failure to conform to prescribed standards of dress, personal appearance, or military deportment.

k. The discovery of any conditions concerning a probationary officer that, had they been known at the time of appointment, would have precluded appointment.

l. Failure to participate adequately in or to respond successfully to rehabilitation for alcohol or drug abuse, or a subsequent alcohol or drug related incident of misconduct at any time during the 12-month period following successful completion of the Army Substance Abuse Program or during the 12-month period following removal from the program for any reason will result in the Soldier being processed for separation as an alcohol or drug abuse rehabilitation failure (see AR 600–85). Care should be taken to avoid the inclusion of limited-use evidence as defined in AR 600–85.

m. Receipt of a “Relief for Cause” officer evaluation report when the basis for relief is for reasons that do not involve acts of misconduct or moral or professional dereliction (see AR 623–3).

Army Reserve Officer Eliminations based on one of the above actions MUST result in an Honorable Discharge.  If a Reserve Officer is eliminated for any of the following reasons, he/she may receive an Honorable, General under honorable Conditions, or Other than Honorable Discharge:

a. Discreditable failure, whether intentional or not, to meet personal financial obligations.

b. Mismanagement of personal affairs, whether intentional or not, to the discredit of the Service.

c. Intentional misrepresentation of facts in obtaining an appointment or in official statements or records.

d. Acts of serious or recurring misconduct punishable by military or civilian authorities (including, but not limited to, acts committed while in a drunken or drug-intoxicated state, or meeting the criteria specified in paras 2–11c or 2–11d). Included under this criterion are officers identified as illegal drug abusers (as defined by AR 600–85); officers involved in two serious incidents of alcohol-related misconduct within 12 months (as defined by AR 600–85); officers involved in illegal trafficking, distribution, possession with intent to distribute, or sale of illegal drugs; officers testing positive for illegal drugs a second time during their career; and officers convicted of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence a second time during their career, unless they have been referred to a court-martial authorized to impose a punitive discharge.

e. Intentional neglect or failure to—

(1) Perform assigned duties.

(2) Participate satisfactorily in required Ready Reserve training, or the officer is determined to be an unsatisfactory participant under the provisions of AR 135–91.

(3) Comply with applicable directives to include but not be limited to:

(a) Furnishing a current address of record (see AR 135–133). (The officer cannot be located through the address furnished.)

(b) Maintaining a permanent residence, for mailing purposes, in the United States or its territories while traveling or residing in a foreign country other than one within the jurisdiction of an overseas commander (see AR 140–1).

(c) Having the applicable medical examinations required by AR 40–501.

(d) Replying to official correspondence or completing administrative forms. When the follow-up action prescribed in AR 135–133 fails to locate the officer or clearly evidences willful neglect to complete the required forms or to reply to official correspondence, the appropriate commander will initiate involuntary separation action. Copies of communications remaining unanswered, or the substance thereof, with the dates and addresses, will be included in the recommendation for involuntary separation action, together with a brief description of any other means used to locate or communicate with the officer concerned. These documents will be furnished to the board of officers and will be made a part of the completed board proceedings.

f. Conviction by a federal or state criminal court when:

(1) Convicted by civilian authorities, or action is taken that is tantamount to a finding of guilty (to include a similar adjudication in juvenile proceedings); and,

(2) A dismissal would be authorized for the same or a closely related offense under the UCMJ, or the sentence by civilian authorities includes confinement for 6 months or more without regard to suspension or probation (for cases involving sexual assault convictions, see para 2–13g); and,

(3) Specific circumstances of the offense warrant separation.

g. Final conviction by a federal or state criminal court of a covered offense as specified in AR 27–10, para 24–2, or an attempt to commit a covered offense when the officer has not been punitively discharged for such a conviction.

h. Conviction by a foreign court, resulting in confinement or other restriction of the officer’s freedom which significantly diminishes that individual’s usefulness to the Army (see AR 600–8–24 for processing requirements, including required documentation).

i. Entry into a military service of a foreign government.

j. Receipt of a “Relief for Cause” officer evaluation report involving acts of misconduct or moral or professional dereliction (see AR 623–3).

k. Conduct or actions that result in the loss of a professional status, such as withdrawal, suspension or abandonment of professional license, endorsement, or certification that is directly or indirectly connected with or is necessary for the performance of one’s military duties. (For AMEDD officers, this includes the partial or complete suspension, limitations, withdrawal, or denial of clinical practice privileges.)

l. Failure of a course at a service school because of misconduct or moral or professional dereliction.

m. The final denial or revocation of an officer’s Secret security clearance by appropriate authorities acting pursuant to DODM 5200.02 and AR 380–67 or failure of the officer to apply for an initial or a reinvestigation for a clearance.

n. Conduct or actions by a WO resulting in a loss of special qualifications (such as withdrawal/revocation of Criminal Investigation Division accreditation, revocation of marine qualification license, withdrawal of clinical privileges or loss of flying status) that directly or indirectly precludes a WO from performing in a military occupational specialty (MOS) and is necessary for the performance of those duties. Separations based on these reasons may not be utilized if reclassification action is feasible and in the best interest of the Service or if the loss of special qualifications was due to medical reasons beyond the control of the WO.

o. Acts of child/spouse maltreatment or abuse and/or other acts of Family violence.

p. Conduct unbecoming an officer.

Army Reserve Officer Eliminations, once initiated by the proper authority, are sent to the Officer in question.  This is sometimes provided to the Officer in person, but often is mailed to him/her. The Officer typically has 15 days to make elections. The Officer in question has the following options:

An Officer facing an Army Reserve Officer Elimination Action must be afforded the opportunity to appear before a Board of Inquiry if he/she has more than 5 years of commissioned service or if an Other than Honorable characterization of service is recommended.  A Board of Inquiry, which is explained more in depth at this link, is a mini-trial (typically one-day) with three members (one COL and two LTCs).  At this hearing, the Officer is represented by a lawyer and a prosecutor is present, presenting the case against him/her.  The Officer has the right to call witnesses, present evidence, and testify. The Officer's counsel can question/cross examine all witnesses presented to the Board and make opening/closing statements.  The rules for a formal board from AR 15-6 apply at a Board of Inquiry.

A Board first determines if the allegation is supported by a preponderance of the evidence. Then, if the Board determines the allegation to be substantiated, then they determine if he/she should be eliminated from the Army and if so, what characterization of service is authorized. A Board of Inquiry finding/recommendation is binding on the separation authority, except that the separation authority can always be more lenient. For example, if a Board of Inquiry recommends retention, the Officer in question MUST be retained. If a Board of Inquiry recommends separation with an Other than Honorable Discharge, the separation authority can retain the Officer OR separate him/her with any characterization of service.

Any Officer facing an Army Reserve Officer Elimination Action that is retirement eligible can retire in lieu of elimination.  Requests to retire in lieu of elimination are explained in more depth at this link.  Of note, Officers requesting this option need to be aware of the provisions of the Army Grade Determination Review Board.

Any Officer facing an Army Reserve Officer Elimination Action can resign in lieu of elimination. Resignations in lieu of elimination are explained in more depth at this link.  Before requesting a resignation in lieu of elimination, it should be understood that if this request is approved by the separation authority, the Officer will still receive a DD214 that says "unacceptable conduct." Basically, the name is deceptive and this is not a normal resignation.

A conditional resignation in lieu of elimination is explained more at this link.

For any Officer facing an Army Reserve Officer Elimination Action that is pending a medical evaluation board (IDES processing), the separation authority must allow both the medboard and the elimination action to come to a decision point. Then, when both actions are done, the separation authority forwards them to the DASA-RB for final decision. Very little guidance is given to the DASA-RB and the decision is highly discretionary.

The separation authority for Army Reserve Officer Eliminations (without a medboard) is the Area Commander or the CG of HRC (if the Officer is under the jurisdiction of HRC).

Anyone facing an Army Reserve Officer Elimination action should be represented by counsel. Trial Defense Services (TDS) is available to them; however, these Reserve lawyers are often busy with their non-reserve jobs and typically do not have the time to apply to properly represent an Officer facing elimination. Furthermore, these JAGs are often inexperienced and over-worked.  Officers facing elimination can retain Civilian counsel. This allows the Officer in question to chose a counsel with positive reviews from prior clients and a proven track record of success.  An Officer facing elimination should demand an aggressive counsel who will spend time to investigate the case, prepare a defense, and advocate for the accused either at the Board of Inquiry or in writing (if not Board eligible).

This Article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry, who has extensive experience with Army Reserve Officer Eliminations.

Contact him today for a free consultation.