CALL: ‪(757) 504-2815

Article 90 UCMJ Disobey a Superior Commissioned Officer

 In Blog

Article 90 UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) pertains to “Assaulting or willfully disobeying superior commissioned officer.” This article addresses offenses committed by military personnel who assault or willfully disobey a superior commissioned officer.

Elements of UCMJ Article 90 obey a superior commissioned officer

A service member who

Strikes his or her superior commissioned officer or draws or lifts up any weapon or offers any violence against the officer while the officer is in the execution of his or her office, or

Willfully disobeys a lawful command given by the officer, which it was the duty of the subordinate to obey,

shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

It is important to note that “superior commissioned officer” refers to a military officer who holds a higher rank or position in the chain of command than the accused. The actions covered by Article 90 involve assault or violence towards a superior officer or willful disobedience of their lawful commands.

The penalties for a violation of Article 90 can vary depending on the circumstances and the decision of the court-martial. Potential punishments may include confinement, reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay, fines, or other disciplinary actions.

It is important to consult the UCMJ and seek legal advice from a military attorney for specific guidance and up-to-date information on any legal matters.

Why obey a superior commissioned officer under UCMJ Article 90

Chain of Command: The military operates under a hierarchical structure known as the chain of command. It ensures efficient decision-making, coordination, and unity of effort. Obeying a superior officer helps maintain discipline and order within the chain of command, ensuring that commands are followed and tasks are executed in a coordinated manner.

Mission Accomplishment: The military’s primary purpose is to accomplish its assigned missions, which often involve complex operations and the coordination of multiple units and personnel. Obeying superior officers is essential for the successful execution of these missions. It ensures that orders and instructions are carried out promptly and accurately, contributing to the overall effectiveness and success of military operations.

Safety and Security: Military operations can involve high-risk situations, including combat, training exercises, and the handling of sensitive equipment or materials. Obeying a superior officer’s instructions helps maintain safety standards, reduces the risk of accidents or injuries, and enhances overall security. It ensures that personnel follow established protocols and guidelines designed to protect themselves, their comrades, and military assets.

Discipline and Order: Military discipline is fundamental to effective operations. Obeying a superior officer fosters discipline and maintains order within military units. It cultivates a culture of respect, professionalism, and accountability, ensuring that individuals adhere to standards and regulations. Discipline is crucial for instilling trust, teamwork, and cohesion among military personnel.

Legal and Ethical Considerations: Obeying superior officers is a legal requirement under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and military regulations. It upholds the principle of military law and supports the overall system of justice and accountability within the military. Additionally, following lawful orders and instructions from superiors helps ensure that military actions are conducted within the bounds of legality, ethics, and human rights.

Overall, obeying superior commissioned officers is important because it enables effective command and control, contributes to mission accomplishment, maintains safety and security, promotes discipline and order, and upholds legal and ethical standards within the military.

When can you disobey a superior commissioned officer under Article 90?

Disobeying a superior commissioned officer’s orders is generally not encouraged within the military, as it undermines the chain of command, discipline, and the overall effectiveness of military operations. However, there may be exceptional circumstances when it might be appropriate to disobey an order. These circumstances are limited and subject to specific conditions, such as:

Unlawful Orders: Military personnel are obligated to refuse orders that are unlawful. If an order violates national or international laws, regulations, or ethical standards, individuals have a duty to question and potentially refuse to carry out such orders. However, it is important to note that the determination of an order’s legality is complex and should be based on consultation with legal advisors or the appropriate authorities.

Imminent Danger: If following an order would result in immediate and serious harm to oneself or others, there may be justification for disobeying it. This concept is often referred to as the “imminent danger” principle. It involves a reasonable belief that carrying out the order would lead to immediate and irreparable harm, such as endangering lives or causing severe damage.

Competing Obligations: In certain situations, military personnel may face conflicting obligations or orders from different superiors. Resolving conflicting orders can be challenging, and individuals may need to seek clarification or guidance to reconcile these conflicts. In such cases, it may be necessary to disobey one order to fulfill a higher-priority obligation or to prevent serious harm.

Ethical Concerns: Military personnel are expected to adhere to high ethical standards. If an order conflicts with an individual’s deeply held ethical beliefs or moral principles, they may choose to disobey the order. However, this should be done after careful consideration and with an understanding of the potential consequences.

It is important to note that disobeying an order, even under exceptional circumstances, can still carry serious consequences. If a military member believes that disobedience is justified, it is crucial to follow proper channels, such as seeking guidance from superiors, legal advisors, or the chain of command, to address the situation appropriately and mitigate potential repercussions.

A person under investigation for Article 90 should consult with an experienced military attorney to determine whether their circumstance falls within these exceptional circumstances. They should not try to answer an investigator’s question without first speaking with an attorney. If you are under investigation for assaulting or willfully disobeying superior commissioned officer, contact us here today or at 757-504-2815.


Start typing and press Enter to search