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Administrative letters of reprimand: a nonpunitive measure to correct misconduct

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Email   Print   Share By Sgt. 1st Class James Mortimer, Asst. IG, III Corps
March 17, 2011 | News
Without a doubt, leaders will, at some point in their military careers, have to correct a Soldier’s misconduct. In general, minor offenses in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice are corrected by nonjudicial punishment. However, misconduct not requiring the imposition of nonjudicial punishment may be addressed by nonpunitive measures. Included among these options is the administrative letter of reprimand.

Misconduct most appropriate to nonpunitive measures are usually issues of simple neglect, forgetfulness, laziness, inattention to instructions, sloppy habits, difficulty adjusting to disciplined military life, and similar deficiencies. Administrative reprimands can call Soldiers’ attention to their deficiencies and gives them an opportunity to correct them before more severe measures are required.

However, when a Soldier’s misconduct results from intentional disregard of or failure to comply with military standards, nonjudicial punishment may be more appropriate. Nonjudicial punishment may include reductions in rank, forfeitures, restrictions, and admonitions and reprimands or a combination of these.

It is important to distinguish administrative reprimands from reprimands issued as nonjudicial punishment under the UCMJ. A reprimand given as a punishment may only be imposed by a commander and must follow the due process procedures outlined in Army Regulation 27-10, Military Justice, and the UCMJ. Procedures for administrative reprimands are outlined in AR 600-37, Unfavorable Information. In addition to commanders, administrative reprimands may be issued by school commandants, general officers, and officers exercising general court-martial jurisdic-


For enlisted Soldiers, their immediate supervisor may also issue a letter of reprimand, although they cannot direct the filing of the reprimand in personnel records unless serving in one of the former positions. These reprimands may only be kept in local files, such as the Soldier’s counseling packet. Soldiers given an administrative reprimand must be informed of the action and be provided an opportunity to submit a rebuttal.

Under provisions of AR 600-37, administrative letters of reprimand may be filed in the Military Personnel Records Jacket, or may be filed in the Soldier’s Official Military Personnel File maintained by the Human Resources Command. Although the Personnel Services Delivery Redesign has eliminated the MPRJ, the Service Members Individual File maintained at the unit is the functional equivalent.

Letters filed in the OMPF are placed in the performance portion only upon the order of a general officer or officer having general court-martial authority over the recipient. Letters directed to be filed in the OMPF will also be filed in the MPRJ (or its equivalent). Once filed, the correspondence is permanent, unless the Soldier successfully appeals the reprimand in accordance with AR 600-37.

Soldiers who have received or believe they are going to receive a reprimand frequently contact the Inspector General’s office for assistance. Often, they want to present what they believe are mitigating circumstances or to contest the basis of the reprimand.

When the IG receives a request for assistance, like all requests, it is given careful examination. The first consideration for the IG is, “Is it an IG appropriate issue?” In most cases, complaints concerning administrative reprimands are not IG appropriate issues.

Significantly, a form of redress exists in the appeal process provided by the regulation. Additionally, the IG does not determine the facts of the case, nor does the IG consider the suitability of the administrative action. These are command issues and Soldiers need to use their chain of command. The IG will, however, review the issue to ensure due process was provided and consider any other Soldier concerns.

Soldiers given or pending an administrative reprimand are encouraged to carefully review the applicable regulations, discuss the issue with their chain of command, and consult with legal assistance

for legal advice. Your servicing Inspector General’s office is also available to advise or assist commanders, leaders, and Soldiers with any concerns.
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