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News > Foundations of military discipline: know them, live them
Foundations of military discipline: know them, live them

Posted 10/21/2008   Updated 10/21/2008 Email story   Print story


by Capt. Christopher Baker
21st Space Wing Legal Office

10/21/2008 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- An adequate and fair system of military justice has always been essential to the maintenance of discipline and morale in any military command. Thus, the evolution of military justice has necessarily involved the balancing of two basic interests: war fighting and the desire for an efficient, but fair, system for maintaining good order and discipline. 

The Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly noted that "the military is, by necessity, a society separate from civilian society." Goldman v. Weinberger, 475 U.S. 503, 506 (1982).
-- The military must insist upon a respect for duty and discipline without counterpart in civilian life to prepare for and perform its vital role. Id. at 507
-- Without this respect for duty and discipline we would be unable to function properly in combat.
-- The conduct of military service members is governed by special rules and standards of behavior set forth in laws, military regulations, instructions, directives, and lawful orders. 

There are several purposes for a separate military justice system
-- The primary purpose of the Military's system is to provide the military commander with necessary tools to enforce good order and discipline.
-- An additional purpose is our global needs.
-- We are not limited to one state or even one country.
-- We need to be able to ensure consistent standards across the world.
-- Another purpose is to promote justice.
-- A separate system promotes efficiency and effectiveness in the military establishment.
-- All these justifications help strengthen the national security of the United States. 

The UCMJ fits the needs of a separate discipline system
-- Art 10, UCMJ, allows a military member to be arrested or placed in confinement, but also mandates immediate steps to inform him or her of the charges and to try him or her or dismiss the charges and release him or her
-- Art 13 prohibits pre-trial punishment of a military member
-- Art 15 provides an addition forum for military members to have their offense tried and provides a rehabilitative tool for those who commit certain offenses
-- Art 25 mandates that a military member be tried by no less than 12 members for capital cases
-- Art 27 requires a defense counsel to be appointed to every general and special- court martial
-- An accused may request a different ADC if that ADC is reasonably available
-- An accused may receive civilian counsel but at the member's expense
-- Art 31 provided protections against self-incrimination before the Supreme Court ruled that civilians must be advised of their Miranda Rights
-- Art 37 prohibits unlawful command influence in the discipline process
-- Articles 55 through 58 provide protections against cruel and unusual punishments, and also allow the court martial convening authority with additional measures to reduce the adjudged sentence after the court martial is completed and prohibits the convening authority from increasing the punishment
-- Article 62 and 63 allow for appeals of a court-martial and a re-hearing, when necessary 

(Editor's Note: This article is one of several highlighting the Air Force Space Command Year of Leadership and its focus on discipline)

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