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Absences from the Reserves

Air Force

After you read this fact sheet, please call the Hotline (877-447-4487) to talk over your options with a counselor.

There are many different kinds of duty to which a reservist might be ordered to appear, including active duty for training, drills, annual training, muster, and mobilization and deployment. Members of the national guard can also be ordered to duty in state emergencies without ever coming under orders from the federal government (that is, under Title 10, Armed Forces, of the US Code). GI Rights Hotline counselors are available for a free, confidential consultation on any of these issues.

Any reservist called to active duty under Title 10 U.S.C is subject to the UCMJ from the date that orders indicate they are to report for duty and any absence on or after that date is punishable by the UCMJ. Nevertheless, many absence offenses that could be punished under the UCMJ are never referred to court-martial or non judicial punishment. GI Rights Hotline counselors can help assess possible and likely consequences for absent reservists. There are some special categories mentioned below.

DAFI 36-3211 Military Separations (24 JUNE 2022)

DAFI 36-3211 Military Separations (24 JUNE 2022) (4.3 MB)

Comments: To view or download the complete regulation, click on the the link to it in the box above these comments.

Chapter 7

Section 7D—Entry Level Performance or Conduct.

7.22. Eligibility and Criteria. Members in entry level status should be discharged when their unsatisfactory performance or conduct shows they are not qualified to be productive members of the AF or SF.

7.22.1. A member may be discharged under this provision only if the discharge processing starts during the first 180 days of continuous active military service or the first 180 days of continuous active military service after a break of more than 92 days of active service. ARC Only: For ARC members who have not completed 180 days of continuous active military service and are not on active duty, entry level status begins upon enlistment in a reserve component unit (including a period of assignment to a delayed entry program). Entry level status ends 180 days after beginning initial active duty training. Thus, a member may be in entry level status for more than 180 days after enlistment.

7.22.2. Unsatisfactory performance or conduct may be shown in several ways. They may include, but are not limited to: ARC Only. Failure to report for scheduled initial active duty training within 365 days of enlistment. Note: If the member fails to report for scheduled inactive duty training within 365 days of enlistment, due to no fault of their own, it is reflected as a voluntary separation and not involuntary. Factors due to no fault of the member include, but are not limited to, medical emergencies, deaths in the family, natural disasters, or other similar events.

Comments: ARC stands for Air Reserve Component. Entry Level Separations are NOT characterized (Honorable, General, etc.). See Terms below.

Section 13D—Involuntary Discharge or Separation.

13.9. Reasons for Discharge or Separation. A member may be discharged or separated for convenience of the government for the following reasons in addition to those delineated in paragraph 7.7

13.9.2. Unsatisfactory Participation. A member of the reserve who fails to meet participation requirements, regardless of whether they have fulfilled an existing MSO under 10 USC § 651, may be discharged if the commander concerned also determines that the individual has no potential for useful service under conditions of full mobilization. PALACE CHASE obligors should be processed in accordance with Part 4 of this DAFI. Note: ANG and Category A reservists may be discharged for unsatisfactory participation if the member has accumulated nine or more unexcused absences from UTA/RSD within a 12-month period. Unsatisfactory participation is defined in AFMAN 36-2136. Do not use this basis if the individual is in entry level status. (T-1).

Comments: "UTA" is Unit Training Assembly (drill). Before IADT, a member will not be charged with Unsatisfactory Participation for not attending drills (see definition of Entry Level Status, below).


Entry Level Separation—Enlisted discharge from entry level status without service characterization. This is complete severance from all military status gained by the enlistment or induction concerned.

Entry Level Status—The first 180 days of Enlisted continuous active military service or the first 180 days of continuous active service after a break of more than 92 days of active service. In addition, a member is in entry level status during a period of assignment to the delayed enlistment program prior to active military service. For members of a Reserve component who have not completed 180 days of continuous active military service and are not on active duty, entry level status begins upon enlistment in a Reserve component (including a period of assignment to a delayed entry program). Entry level status ends 180 days after beginning period of initial active duty training. Thus, a member may be in entry level status for more than 180 days after enlistment. For the purpose of characterization or description of service, the member's status is determined by the date of notification as to the initiation of separation proceeding.



Air Force Instruction 36-2254V1, Reserve Personnel Participation (656 KB)

Comments: To view or download the complete regulation, click on the the link to it in the box above these comments. 

This regulation does not apply to the Air National Guard.



1.3.1. A unit member who has nine or more unexcused IDT absences, in a 12-month period with the first month missed as month one, or has not completed a scheduled Annual Tour in an FY (unless substituted or excused) is considered an unsatisfactory participant....

Comments: “IDT” is Inactive Duty Training (drill). “FY” is Fiscal Year.

1.3.3. Disposition of United States Air Force Reserve (AFRC) Unsatisfactory Participants.

AFRC Commanders are authorized to take the following actions when necessary and appropriate: Delay or defer promotion. Administrative demotion. Involuntary 45 manday recall. Members who have not fulfilled their Military  Service Obligation (MSO) in accordance with Title 10 U.S.C., Section 651, may be  ordered to active duty for training (ADT), regardless of the length of prior AD or ADT, for a period of not more than 45 days under Title 10 U.S.C., Section 10148. Recall will`be in a special Reserve Personnel Appropriation (RPA) tour status and must be performed at the unit of assignment/attachment. Enlisted members assigned to the Selected Reserve who are ordered to AD or ADT may be returned to their previous unit of assignment or transferred to the IRR. The member’s term of enlistment may be extended up to 6 months to permit completion of the designated period of AD in accordance with Title 10 U.S.C., Section 10148.

Comments: “AD” is Active Duty. Ordered to AD. Members in the Selected Reserve who have not fulfilled their MSO in accordance with Title 10 U.S.C., Section 651, and have not served on AD, or ADT for a total of 24 months, for such period of time the Secretary deems appropriate, may be required to serve on AD until their AD or ADT equals 24 months (Title 10 U.S.C., Section 12303). Reassign unsatisfactory participants to the appropriate subcategory of IRR or Standby Reserve (with unit or PM authority respectively) in accordance with AFI 36-2115. Ensure that on transfer to the IRR, members understand their MSO as a member of the IRR, including the requirement for satisfactory participation in the annual reporting (Muster Duty and/or Push/Pull) program. Failure to satisfactorily participate in annual screening requirements may result in an involuntary recall to ADT for 45 days regardless of the length of prior AD or ADT. Initiate discharge action according to AFI 36-3209.




3.2.3. Substandard Performance While on IADT/BMT/TT. If an AFRC member commits an offense that demonstrates substandard performance the attached commander may initiate UCMJ or administrative  discharge action under AFI 36-3208, Administrative Separation of Airmen. If UCMJ or discharge action is initiated, the unit of attachment will notify the unit of assignment and conclude UCMJ or discharge processing. If the AFRC member is to be returned to the unit of assignment for processing and action, the unit of attachment publishes orders relieving the member from attachment and directs him or her to the assigned servicing MPF, at which time the member reverts to inactive status. Examples of substandard performance are: Failure to comply with IADT orders. Absence without leave. Failure to complete a training course due to lack of effort or failure to achieve a 3-skill level AFSC. (Exception: Failure to achieve a 3-skill level due to  incomplete processing of a security clearance required for award of an AFSC.) Commission of an offense under the UCMJ leading to administrative actions including discharge action (per AFI 36-3208) or a court-martial conviction. Air Force Reserve TT liaisons must notify parent unit commanders immediately  upon learning of a member’s commission of an offense. Lost time, unless it is made up with the approval of HQ AFRC/A1.




4.14. Reservist Nonparticipation.

4.14.1. For unit reservists the commander or designated representative will be responsible for exercising sound judgment in authorizing excusal, ET, or rescheduling actions. A commander or supervisor must consider the impact on training readiness and mission effectiveness when considering requests for excusals.

4.14.2. If for any reason the member fails to notify their unit commander or supervisor of the circumstances regarding the absence, the individual’s commander or supervisor contacts the individual, documenting such effort with Memorandum for Record or email. Every effort must be made to make personal contact during the first period of the UTA/IDT, but not later than the end of the UTA/IDT. If contact is made anytime during the UTA/IDT, the commander may excuse, unexcuse, or authorize other training as appropriate, based upon the merits of the case.

DAFI 36-2110 Total Force Assignments (2 AUGUST 2021)

DAFI 36-2110 Total Force Assignments (2 AUGUST 2021) (2.9 KB)

Comments: To view or download the complete regulation, click on the link to it in the box above these comments.

8.22. Assignment of Members for Unsatisfactory Participation. (T-2)
8.22.1. General Discharge from a Reserve Component: Unsatisfactory participation may result in administrative discharge IAW AFI 36-3209, or an involuntary transfer to the IRR or Standby Reserve as set out in Chapter 11. In some cases members processed for administrative discharge will still be transferred to the non-participating IRR because they have a remaining statutory MSO. These members will serve out their remaining MSO in the nonparticipating IRR, unless otherwise transferred or discharged...

DAFI 36-3802 Force Support Readiness Programs (NOV 2021)

DAFI 36-3802 Force Support Readiness Programs (NOV 2021) (1 MB)

Comments: To view or download the complete regulation, click on the link to it in the box above these comments.

Chapter 8

Desertion and Unauthorized Absence (UA)

...8.4. When UAs Begins and Ends. The commander, first sergeant, and/or supervisor will investigate a member’s absence to determine whether or not the absence is voluntary or involuntary. (T-2). A UA is when an Airman voluntarily absences themselves from where they are ordered or otherwise required to be present. A UA ends when the absentee or deserter returns to military control. A UA of 24 hours or less is classified administratively as “failure to go”. …

8.4.1. When to classify as AWOL. A voluntary UA of more than 24 hours and less than 30 days is classified administratively as AWOL (UCMJ, Article 86).(T-1).

8.4.2. When to classify as a Deserter. A member who has been AWOL for more than 30 consecutive days will be classified administratively as a deserter (UCMJ, Article 85) (T-1). Example: AMN Doe has been AWOL since 1 Jan 2018. He remains AWOL through 2400 on the 30th consecutive day and his status is changed to Deserter on the 31st day (10th day during times of National Emergency or war declared by the President or Congress) with an effective date and time of 31 January 2018 at 0001.

Note: An absentee does not have to be placed in AWOL status prior to being classified as a Deserter status if the member is absent without authority, regardless of the length of the absence, and meets any of the eligibility criteria listed below. The commander has determined that the member remains absent from his or her unit, organization, or place of duty with no intention of returning. Is under the duty or travel restrictions that AFMAN 16-1405, Air Force Personnel Security Program, imposes. Has had access in the past 12 months to Top Secret information or other classified information that requires special access authority (see paragraph 8.7.8.). Note: Do not classify a person who appears to be a casualty as a deserter solely because the person has had access to classified material described herein. Has gone to, or stayed in, a foreign country and, while there, has asked for or taken any type of asylum or resident permit from that country or its governmental agencies. Has action pending on a previous UA that has not been completed. Is an escaped prisoner. Is under investigation for violating the UCMJ as listed in Attachment 2 or against whom charges for any offense have been referred to a General Court-Martial. Is believed likely to commit violent acts, or may harm themselves or the general public. AFPC/DPFC has determined member is a deserter.


8.13. Actions Taken When an Absentee Returns to Military Control

8.14. Notice of Return to Military Control. The unit CSS, MPF, or commander at the AF installation taking initial control of the absentee must notify AFPC/DPFCM immediately of the apprehension (T-1). In accordance with AFI 31-105, AF Corrections System, installation commanders maintain the capability to house pretrial detainees and adjudged inmates with sentences up to one year, through organic confinement facilities, adjacent DoD facilities, civilian contracts, or a combination of organic, Support Agreement, or contract derived bed space.

  • Comment: "AFPC" stands for Air Force Personnel Center.

8.15. Where Absentees Return to Military Control:

8.15.1.At any military installation staffed by active duty personnel, immediately transfer an individual to the nearest installation of the individual's branch of military service that has facilities to process absentees (T-1).Military authorities will take absentees and deserters being detained temporarily in the hands of civil authorities into custody within 48 hours after receiving notification of the absentee’s or deserter’s place of detention. (T-1)


8.17. Disposition of Absentee Returned to Military Control:

8.17.1.Absentees gone for less than 1 year are returned to the unit they were assigned to at the time of their UA. (T-1).8.17.2.Members absent for 1 year or more are transferred to the nearest AF installation with facilities to handle the case.(T-1). ...

8.20. Commander’s Determination. The action unit commander:

8.20.1. Takes responsibility for disposition of UA. (T-1).

8.20.2. Reviews case circumstances and consults with JA to determine if the absence was avoidable or unavoidable. (T-1).

  • Comment: "SJA" stands for Staff Judge Advocate.

8.20.3. A commander who finds that an absence was: Avoidable, consults with JA and takes appropriate disciplinary action as warranted.(T-1). Unavoidable, the commander excuses the absence. The period of absence does not count as lost time(T-1).Charge it to leave if not authorized for another reason (ref: AFI 36-3003, Military Leave Program). A new HR type Personnel Processing Application AWOL/Deserter CMS case is required to revoke the UA report.(T-3).Examples of excused absences not charged to leave include, but are not limited to: When a member's lack of mental capacity causes the absence. When civilian law enforcement authorities hold, try and acquit a member

8.20.4. If a member dies during a UA, the commander of the unit of assignment makes a new status determination (T-2). After considering all available facts, the commander determines if the member was in duty status, absent on leave, absent without leave, or a deserter(T-2).


8.22. Special Requirements for ANG and AFR Members

8.23. General. This section applies to ANG or AFR members ordered to extended active duty voluntarily or involuntarily per AFI 36-2110, Total Force Assignments.

8.23.1. When an extended active duty order calls an Air Reserve Component (ARC) member to active duty, the active duty unit the member is temporarily assigned to processes the absentee only after coordination with the unit of assignment. (T-1).

8.24. Determining UAs. An ARC member voluntarily or involuntarily called or recalled to active duty or active duty for training who fails to report is an absentee if strong evidence exists that the member received the orders (Title 10 orders).

8.24.1. Per DODI 1215.13 Reserve Component Member Participation Policy. When members of the Selected Reserve are ordered to active duty for training or transferred to the Individual Ready Reserve because of unsatisfactory participation, copies of the orders will be furnished to the Service member. (T-1). Military Services will obtain acknowledgment of receipt, either written or electronic, and maintain a trackable record. (T-1). Service members ordered to active duty for training who fail to report will be processed pursuant to policy and procedures established by the Secretary of the AF.(T-1).

8.26. Return to Military Control Responsibilities. …

8.26.2. Disposition Instructions: Absentees gone for less than 180 days are returned to their unit of assignment or to another unit with court-martial jurisdiction as determined by the unit of assignment commander.(T-1). Absentees gone for 180 days or more are no longer carried on unit rolls and are sent to the nearest AF installation with facilities for handling the case.(T-1). In some cases, the rules outlined above may not be appropriate. Under these circumstances, contact AFPC/DPFCM for further guidance.