Article 139 complaints are very rare. Under Article 139, a commanding officer who receives a complaint of willful damage to a person’s property or of property wrongfully taken can convene a board to investigate the complaint. The board of officers can assess the damages sustained and, subject to the approval of the commander, have the amount charged against the pay of the offenders. A person can recover damages suffered as a result of military personnel engaging in “riotous conduct, willful conduct, or acts showing such reckless or wanton disregard of the property rights of others that willful damage or destruction is implied.” Article 139 claims can not be made for:
- simple negligence,
- personal injury or death,
- acts or omissions within the scope of employment of the offender.
Damages will be assessed only for direct physical damages, and indirect, remote or inconsequential damage will not be considered. Claims must be made within 90 days of the incident.
Submit a written claim to the commanding officer. The commanding officer convenes an investigation to assess damages and identify responsible parties. The general courtmartial convening authority will review the investigation, determine whether the claim is properly handled under Article 139, and whether the facts indicate that the offenders identified were responsible for the damage. If the convening authority finds the claim in order, he or she fixes the amount to be assessed against the offenders and docks their pay.