Monthly Archives: September 2009

General Military Info and Resources

(Links will open a new window) U.S. Military
All about the United States Military including job descriptions, the enlistment and training process, ranks, bases,  assignments, military law and legislation and more. Features a very frank and fair section called “What the Recruiter Never Told You” by Rod Powers, a 23-year Air Force veteran.

Government Databases – Military
Acronyms & terms, DADT, POW/MIA, periodicals

Rank and Insignia

Defense Link – U.S. Department of Defense (includes news and briefings by the Secretary of Defense)

Military Personnel Statistics

Military Times Network
Independent (not owned or operated by the military) journalism with newspapers and websites for the larger branches.

Soldier of Fortune Magazine — (Note: not for the weak of heart)

Special Forces Search Engine

Revolution in Military Affairs

Quadrennial Defense Review — The Project on Defense Alternatives
A compendium of online analysis, background studies, official documents, and commentary essential to understanding U.S. defense reviews and the formulation of national security strategy.

Terrorism -The Project on Defense Alternatives

CRS Report to Congress (dead link)

1779 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20036-2109
Tel 202-332-0600
Fax 202-462-4559

Military Reform Project:


Military Recruiting FAQ

7/2007 orig   bad links

[PDF version of this info for easy printing and sharing]

If you or someone you know is thinking about joining the U.S. military, here are some points to consider before you “sign on the dotted line.”

1. Military enlistments are potentially unlimited in length.
The box below cites “fine print” from the back of the first page of a military enlistment “contract.” It shows that, despite the stated length of enlistment (usually four years), recruits can be kept in the military indefinitely, or called back from the reserves many years later, especially as part of the “war on terror,” which has no foreseeable end. This is what’s been called the “back door draft.” Thousands have already been subjected to it. Recruiters typically neglect to mention these sections to potential enlistees.

From The Military Enlistment/Re-enlistment “Contract” (DD Form 4/1)
(NOTE: The sections below are on the BACK of the contract):
9. FOR ALL ENLISTEES OR REENLISTEES: Many laws, regulations, and military customs will govern my conduct and require me to do things a civilian does not have to do. The following statements are not promises or guarantees of any kind. They explain some of the present laws affecting the Armed Forces which I cannot change but which Congress can change at any time. c. In the event of war, my enlistment in the Armed Forces continues until six (6) months after the war ends, unless my enlistment is ended sooner by the President of the United States. b. If I am a member of a Reserve Component of an Armed Force at the beginning of a period of war or national emergency declared by Congress, or if I become a member during that period, my military service may be extended without my consent until six (6) months after the end of that period of war. c. As a member of a Reserve Component, in time of war or national emergency declared by the Congress, I may be required to serve on active duty (other than for training) for the entire period of the war or emergency and for six (6) months after its end. See the full form at:

2. Recruiters’ promises are often false, or not kept. In our GI counseling work, “My recruiter lied” is the most common complaint in our thousands of calls. The reasons recruiters often lie are not hard to find: they are under tremendous and relentless pressure to meet recruiting goals. During wartime, many young people and their families are uneasy about the risks of military service.?Numerous journalistic reports have exposed recruiter misrepresentations. Several such reports, available on the internet, are listed below:

• A 1999 Atlanta TV news report, for which Quaker House was a major source, uncovered systematic misrepresentation by recruiters The reports were titled, “GI Lies” and are
• A former Marine recruiter, Chris White, declared that “Recruiters lie about college benefits, duty station assignments, veterans’ benefits, and countless other aspects of the military in order to convince their clients to sign.”
• Recruiters in Dallas, “arranged with a diploma mill to print required high school diplomas for recruits with GEDs.”; some profited personally from the practice.
• Recruiters for the Indiana National Guard falsified scores of physical exams to sign up recruits who were physically unqualified. in 2002 The Indianapolis Star ran a series of articles exposing this scandal.

3. Military service does not pay off in future job earnings. Recruiters promise training that will lead to better jobs in civilian life. But several careful studies show that veterans typically earn 12% to 15% less than those workers who do not go into the military. One reason for this discrepancy is that much military training is not useful in outside work. Another is the high proportion of veterans who experience PTSD and other problems that interfere with work.

4. The hazards of military service include more than just getting killed or wounded. For instance, less than 300 US soldiers were killed in the first Gulf War of 1991. But tens of thousands of Gulf War vets have reported chronic, debilitating physical and psychological disorders since serving in the Gulf.
Similar problems are already showing up in soldiers returning from the Iraq occupation: rates of major depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are very high.

5. Women in the military face a very high incidence of harassment and rape. Recent studies and notorious cases show, as one report put it, that “sexual assault on women in the military may be common, and that those attacks leave physical and emotional scars on the female veterans long after they’ve left the service.” Moreover, military higher-ups often ignore or cover up these crimes.

6. Military life is very hard on families. The incidence of family abuse and violence in the military is three to five times higher than in the civilian population. A recent North Carolina study showed that children in military communities were twice as likely to be killed by their parents. These abuse patterns are intensified by the impact of a force stretched too thin in Iraq and elsewhere. Heyman & Neidig, Jrnl Consulting Clinical Psychology 1999 ?Apr;67(2):239-42. See also this report from the Quaker House Newsletter. North Carolina Child Homicide Report:

7. DELAYED ENLISTMENT PROGRAM: Persons who sign up for Delayed Enlistment and change their minds CAN get out of the program, relatively easily. Recruiters will often LIE about this, falsely telling people they will be arrested, go to jail, or (if immigrants) get their families deported. If all else fails, DEP members can simply refuse to report for enlistment. More information at:

8. Benefits promised to veterans have been repeatedly cut, with more reductions on the way.


I ain’t singing, Charlie

What to do when the FBI contacts you

When sons and daughters go AWOL from the military, parents frequently have feelings of both relief and distress. Although more than willing to help their children, they worry about the consequences of their loved ones “hiding out” in their homes. Many telephone calls and requests for advice come in from parents in this situation wanting to know if it is legal for them to let their children stay or hide out at home; is it dangerous for their other children; and, whether they have to answer questions coming from either military or federal authorities. Are they, in effect, aiding and abetting, their children in illegal activities?

The first rule is to NEVER LIE to federal authorities. You do not have to answer their questions, however, whether they call on the phone or whether they show up at your front door. ALWAYS refer the police, sheriffs, MPs, FBI officers to your lawyer. Again, do not answer any questions. Give them the name and phone number of your lawyer.

You are not under any obligation to turn your child in or hand them over to the police, mps, FBI, or sheriffs. You are under no obligation to explain anything to them.

We know from experience that not to answer a federal official is difficult. They are big and imposing. They are good at making you feel guilty. Practice saying: “Please contact my lawyer. Her phone number is …” over and over again with family members and in front of a mirror. If you don’t have an attorney, ask the marshals or police for a business card and explain that your lawyer will contact them. If you ever do get a lawyer, tell them about the marshals.

You might find it difficult to leave the Army

By Marti and Luke Hiken
NLG Military Law Task Force Steering Committee Members

For an active duty GI or reservist to get out of the military during peacetime is rather difficult. During wartime, especially during a period of an unjustified war of conquest, like the US assault in Iraq, it is even harder. While getting out is difficult, though, it is not impossible. Knowing the law can level the playing field.

The following are the sorts of questions the MLTF (Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild) receives each day:

1) “I signed up for the Delayed Entry Program, but have changed my mind and don’t want to go in. My recruiter told me to report for duty, and to tell my commanding officer that I’ve changed my mind. Should I do what he says?”

2) “I was just activated into the reserves. My wife was pregnant, and my C.O. (Commanding Officer) gave me two weeks temporary leave to help her because she wasn’t feeling well. It turns out that she might lose the baby if she doesn’t have constant help at home, but my C.O. says that if I don’t return to base immediately, he’ll declare me AWOL (absent without leave) and have me arrested. But there’s no one else to help my wife because our parents are sick, and she can’t afford a full-time nurse. What should I do?”

3) “I’m a marine, and I already served a 9-month tour of duty in Iraq. My best friend over there was killed, and another guy in my company committed suicide because he couldn’t take the constant killing we saw. When I returned to the US, I realized that I just couldn’t go over there again. Now they want me to go back on a second tour of duty. I’ll go UA (unauthorized absence) if they won’t let me out. What can I do?”

4) “My son is AWOL and living in our house. Can we be arrested for letting him do that? He’s falling apart emotionally, and needs the help of a doctor just to make it through each day. He’s totally unable to deal with his problems. What should we do?”

5) “I’m a conscientious objector, and I want to apply for a discharge from the reserves. My C.O. told me that they won’t process my application while I’m not activated, and that I should wait until I get to Iraq to file for the discharge. Is that accurate?”

While the answers to these questions can be difficult to know, there are certain principles that apply in every case. These principles are set forth below:

Principle I) Find a competent counselor or lawyer to assist you in planning and documenting the arguments you have for obtaining a discharge. Prepare the paperwork needed to prove your case and be prepared to take any denial up the chain of command, and even into federal court.

Principle II) Document your case, i.e. create a paper trail that the military can’t ignore or pretend you never presented. In other words,
don’t try to talk your way out of the problem. The military is much better than you are at talking and promising. The bottom line is that if you can document and prove that you qualify for a discharge, the military has to give it to you. If they can talk, bluff, bluster or lie their way out of obeying the law, they will do so. NEVER rely on their false promises or threats. Make them put in writing why they are or are not granting you the relief you seek. Always make sure that someone (your lawyer, counselor, family member) has a copy of the documents you’ve given to the command, so that when they deny you ever gave them anything, or say they “lost” them, you can prove that you did give them documentation of the reasons for discharge.

Principle III) Know what alternatives are available, and what the directives (Department of Defense Directives) and/or regulations (each service has it’s own regulations implementing the DoDs) say, and what the procedures are that the military must follow. Be aware of the options available to you, and pursue the strongest one. DoD 1332.14 sets forth all of the possible discharges available to enlisted personnel. Read each of the choices available, figure out how to show that you qualify for the one(s) you’re seeking and start the process for initiating a discharge. Find the regulation for the service you’re in that implements the way to seek that discharge, and start the processing. Here are some of the websites containing valuable information concerning military law and discharges: and

Familiarize yourself with them, and learn how to use them.

The most common discharges are:

1) GI is medically unfit: See Chapter 3 of AR 40-501 for descriptions of conditions that require the military to discharge you. Ask your family doctor (who knows your medical history) if you have any of the conditions set forth in the Standards. Document the condition, and seek a Medical Review Board if you qualify.

2) Hardship/Dependency: A careful reading of DoD 1332.14, and the relevant service regulation provides guidance for how to document the need for discharge and what procedures the command must follow in approving or discharging the GI.

3) Conscientious Objector: This discharge is trickier than it looks. It requires more than an opposition to the war the US happens to be fighting at any one time. While the “religious” aspect of the discharge is relatively easy to meet, the other prerequisites for the discharge are not. The application forms are extremely misleading and subtle, and contain many traps for the unwary. Before applying for a “C.O.” discharge, the GI should consult with counselors or lawyers who are familiar with the law regarding conscientious objection, and the GI should prepare draft answers to the questions that are asked on the application.

4) ELS – Entry Level Separation: This discharge applies to Gis who realize in the first 180 days of enlistment that they are not going to make it in the military. The regulations describe what kinds of problems you must demonstrate to obtain this discharge. The advantage of it to both the military and the GI is that there is no record of service, no bad discharge, and no financial obligations to the military or government resulting from the discharge.

5) DEP release: This is not really a “discharge,” because a person who signed up for a DEP program is never really “in the military” until and unless (s)he reports for induction. Thus, in 99% of the cases, a DEP candidate can merely send a letter to his/her recruiter/military service indicating a change in circumstance that results in their refusing to go into the military.

6) Discharge in lieu of Court-martial: Many GIs are discharged because they voluntarily agree to be discharged with “bad paper” (OTH discharge: other than honorable) instead of facing court-martial and fighting the charges that have been made against them. When and whether to accept an administrative discharge associated with misconduct, criminal activity or other misconduct is a complicated decision, and should not be made without the help of an experienced counselor or lawyer.

Principle IV) Don’t rely upon or believe any denials of discharge requests based upon verbal explanations or rejections. Make the command put their denials, and the reasons for them in writing. Realize that commanding officers, like recruiters, lie all the time, and will do almost anything to stop you from showing others how they, too, can get out of the service. Demand that denials and refusals to process your requests for discharge be put in writing.

Principle V) Pursue all administrative appeals and remedies provided for in the DoDs and regulations. Know and meet all time limits and procedures for appealing wrongful denials of your request. Most C.O.s are bullies (or their Staff Sergeants are) and they are used to yelling at young soldiers and intimidating them into dropping their requests for discharge. By knowing the regulations, you know what procedures the C.O. is obligated to follow, and you can document that those procedures were not followed.

Principle VI) Evaluate the desirability and likelihood of success in a federal habeas corpus action. Throughout the discharge process, be aware that the federal courts have jurisdiction to determine if the military followed their own internal procedures, and complied with the law regarding the particular discharge. If you can document that your C.O. abused his/her discretion in denying your request, or that the military failed to overcome the facts presented in your paperwork as to why you deserved a particular discharge, the courts have the power to order the military to discharge you.

Principle VII) Use Congresspeople, the media, the Inspector General, or Article 138 of the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) to bolster and support your case. There are advantages and disadvantages to using any of these types of resources to strengthen your case. Speak with your counselor or attorney to decide when to use any or all of them.

Principle VIII) Use the internet to locate the groups, organizations or individuals who can best help you with your problem. There are many groups, such the MLTF, CCCO, the GI Rights Hotline, Center on Conscience and War, Quaker House and many others that have websites with tons of information about getting out of the military. You are the best person to decide what is best for you, and knowing what the law says, what it means, and how to implement it, is your best protection against lies and deceit. Become a specialist in the facts of your own case, and work closely with a counselor or lawyer to develop an overall strategy determining your course of action – and, to win.

Memo: Command Influence

 A PDF version of this publication, for download and printing, can be found here.

Command Influence

By Bob Harmon

DATE: August 12, 2005

“Command influence is the mortal enemy of military justice.” 1

–US Ct. of Military Appeals, 1986

“The good news is that there were only a handful of appellate opinions dealing with unlawful command influence this past year. The bad news is that unlawful command influence is still alive.” 2

COL Robert A. Burrell, Chair and Professor, Criminal Law Department, U.S. Army JAG School, Charlottesville VA, 2001



Question Considered: How to challenge command influence in U.S. military law.

Brief Answer: Counsel can challenge command influence, in military courts-martial, in two ways:

1. By way of the existing safeguards against unlawful command influence already in U.S. military law, where those safeguards were breached, and,

2. By raising new challenges in areas where command-influence law remains uncertain, and where military institutions create a strong possibility, an appearance, of improper command influence even when it’s not exerted or currently unlawful.

Military case law on unlawful command influence has evolved considerably in the last 10 years.