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AAIP Threat to Military Careers

 In Blog, Investigations

The Army Adverse Information Program (AAIP)  addresses concerns regarding the potential compromise of national security and the integrity of military operations due to the presence of adverse information within the military personnel community. This program provides a major threat to military officer careers if poorly or unfairly executed investigations result in substantiated findings. It is critical for an officer to retain an experienced military lawyer as soon as they are notified that they are the subject of an investigation and before allegations substantiated. An experienced military attorney can help a subject navigate the process and mitigate the investigation’s effects.

Adverse information refers to any information or evidence that reflects negatively on an individual’s suitability for continued military service, including criminal misconduct, financial irresponsibility, substance abuse, behavioral problems, and security concerns. Adverse information can also include allegations of bullying or toxic leadership.

Purpose of the AAIP

The creation of the AAIP was driven by the recognition of the significant risks posed by individuals with compromised trustworthiness, reliability, or fitness for duty within the military ranks. Such individuals could undermine unit cohesion, morale, and operational effectiveness, as well as pose security threats to sensitive information and assets.

To meet the requirements of Secretary of Defense policy, AAIP aims to implement a systematic approach to identify, track, and manage adverse information concerning military personnel across the Department of Defense (DoD). The program enables the timely and effective identification, assessment, and adjudication of adverse information to mitigate potential risks and uphold the integrity, readiness, and effectiveness of the military force.

Overall, the creation of the AAIP reflects the Department of Defense‘s commitment to maintaining high standards of professionalism, ethics, and conduct among its personnel, as well as safeguarding national security interests and the well-being of military operations.

What is considered Adverse Information?

Adverse information, according to the Army’s Adverse Information Program (AAIP), refers to any information or evidence that reflects negatively on an individual’s suitability for continued military service. This can include but is not limited to:

Criminal misconduct or legal violations

Financial irresponsibility or indebtedness

Substance abuse or related issues

Behavioral or disciplinary problems

Security concerns or vulnerabilities

Any other conduct or actions that raise questions about an individual’s trustworthiness, reliability, or fitness for duty.

Adverse information may be obtained from various sources, including law enforcement agencies, security investigations, financial institutions, and self-reporting by Army personnel. It is essential for the Army to promptly identify, assess, and address adverse information to maintain the integrity, readiness, and effectiveness of its personnel.

Bullying or toxic leadership

Bullying and toxic leadership falls under the Army’s Adverse Information Program (AAIP)’s definition of adverse information. We have helped several officers and NCOs investigated for toxic leadership.

Bullying and toxic leadership behaviors can have significant negative impacts on unit cohesion, morale, and mission effectiveness. Such behaviors may be indicative of a lack of respect for others, a failure to uphold Army values, and a potential risk to the well-being and readiness of the unit.

Instances of bullying or toxic leadership behavior would likely be considered adverse information because they reflect negatively on an individual’s suitability for continued military service and may raise questions about their leadership abilities, professionalism, and adherence to Army standards.

Therefore, reports or allegations of bullying or toxic leadership would be subject to review and evaluation under the AAIP to determine their accuracy, relevance, and potential impact on personnel suitability. Appropriate adjudicative actions may be taken to address such behavior, including further investigation, counseling, corrective action, or disciplinary measures as warranted by Army policies and regulations.

One person’s definition of toxic leadership, however, may be another person’s direct manner toward another person’s determination to get out of work. We have often seen officers accused of toxic leadership by subordinates who have been getting away with poor performance under previous supervisors.  It’s important to have a vigorous defense and experienced counsel when under investigation for toxic leadership.

Competency of Investigating officers

The competency of Investigation Officers (IO) varies across the spectrum of military command investigations. Commanders appoint these investigating officers because they are available, not because they are trained investigators with legal knowledge. Also, commanders don’t cannot necessarily guarantee impartiality and objectivity of these IOs because of the limited pool of officers available.

IOs appointed by Army commanders to conduct 15-6 investigations are expected to possess a high level of competency to fulfill their responsibilities effectively. Here’s an overview of the competency expected from IOs:

Legal Knowledge: IOs should have a solid understanding of military law, regulations, and procedures governing investigations, including AR 15-6. This knowledge enables them to conduct investigations in accordance with applicable legal standards and ensure the integrity and legality of the process.

Investigative Skills: Competent IOs should possess strong investigative skills, including the ability to gather and analyze evidence, conduct interviews, and evaluate witness testimony objectively. They should be thorough, detail-oriented, and capable of uncovering relevant information to facilitate a comprehensive and accurate investigation.

Impartiality and Objectivity: IOs must demonstrate impartiality and objectivity throughout the investigation process. They should approach their duties with an open mind, free from bias or prejudice, and base their findings and recommendations solely on the evidence and facts uncovered during the investigation.

Communication Skills: Effective communication skills are essential for IOs to interact with witnesses, subjects, and other stakeholders throughout the investigation. They should be able to articulate their questions clearly, actively listen to responses, and document information accurately in their reports.

Analytical Abilities: IOs should possess strong analytical abilities to evaluate complex issues, assess conflicting evidence, and draw reasoned conclusions based on the available information. They should be able to identify patterns, trends, and inconsistencies to arrive at fair and objective findings.

Judgment and Decision-Making: Competent IOs must exercise sound judgment and decision-making skills when evaluating evidence and making recommendations to the appointing authority. They should consider the potential implications of their findings and recommendations on the individuals involved and the organization as a whole.

Ethical Standards: IOs are expected to uphold the highest ethical standards in their conduct and decision-making throughout the investigation process. They should maintain confidentiality, avoid conflicts of interest, and adhere to principles of integrity, honesty, and fairness.

Lack of competency in any of these areas can compromise the integrity and effectiveness of a 15-6 investigation, potentially leading to incomplete or biased findings, procedural errors, and challenges to the investigation’s credibility. Therefore, it is essential for IOs to possess the necessary skills, knowledge, and attributes to perform their duties competently and uphold the integrity of the investigative process. An experienced military lawyer can identify errors and competency issues in an ongoing or completed investigation and provide a legal analysis of an investigations faulty findings.

Can I appeal adverse findings?

In the Army Specifically, AR 15-6 provides only a narrow reconsideration of findings.  Paragraph 2-9 outlines the process for requesting reconsideration of findings from an inquiry or investigation under AR 15-6. Individuals involved, such as subjects or respondents, have the right to request reconsideration based on new evidence, mistakes of law or fact, or administrative errors. However, there are limitations: reconsideration isn’t allowed if there has been administrative, nonjudicial, or judicial action, and requests must be made within one year of the approval authority’s decision, although exceptions can be made for good cause. Requests must be submitted through the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate/legal advisor, and the approval authority will determine whether the new material impacts the findings. If so, the authority may modify the findings. Regardless of the outcome, the requester must be informed of the decision.

If you are under investigation or have an opportunity to respond to findings, call us at 757-504-2815 or contact us here now to discuss the merits of your case.

AAIP Threat to Military Careers
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AAIP Threat to Military Careers
Purpose of the Army Adverse Information Program and how it is a threat to military careers when investigations are conducted poorly or unfairly.
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