ART. 138 of the UCMJ: Complaints of Wrongs
Any member of the armed forces who believes himself wronged by his commanding officer, and who, upon due application to that commanding officer, is refused redress, may complain to any superior commissioned officer, who shall foreword the complaint to the office exercising court-martial jurisdiction over the officer against whom it is made. The officer exercising general court-martial jurisdiction shall examine into the complaint and take proper measures for redressing the wrong complained of; and he shall, as soon as possible, send to the Secretary concerned a true statement of that complaint, with the proceedings thereon.
AR 27-10, Military Justice (11 May 2016), Chapter 19
AFI 51-904, Complaints of Wrongs Under Article 138, Uniform Code of Military Justice (28 JUL 2015), defines a “wrong” as:
A discretionary act or omission by a commander that adversely affects the member personally, and that, for example, is:
- in violation of law or regulation.
- beyond the legitimate authority of that commander.
- arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion.
- clearly unfair or unjust.
Navy and Marines:
JAGMAN (JAGINST 5800.7F), Manual of the Judge Advocate General (26 JUN 2012), Chapter 3 defines wrongs as:
“Any act, omission, decision or order, except those excluded by subsection 0304, taken, caused, or ratified by a “commanding officer,” under color of that officer’s military authority that:
(1) results in personal detriment, harm, or injury to a military subordinate;
(2) is without statutory or regulatory basis, unauthorized, an abuse of discretion, arbitrary and capricious, unjust, or discriminatory.”
(Article 1150 of Navy Regulations lays out similar complaint procedures for Navy and Marine Personnel to supplement Art. 138. This article allows military members to seek redress from any superior other than their commanding officer, including superiors not in their chain of command. Article 1150 complaints are submitted via the commanding officer of the complainant.