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AWOL or UA from Active Duty

Coast Guard

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

Army commands have a lot of discretion regarding the ways they handle differents situations involving Absence offenses (AWOL and Desertion). There are many factors that can influence consequences. GI Rights Hotline is aware that other sources online have posted oversimplifications of how such cases are handled sometimes leading to disappointment when actual outcomes are different than expected. (Sometimes outcomes are better than what was expected.) While there are some probabilities, our experience is that people in such situations need to know there are no guarantees or rules obligating the military to give the desired outcome. GI Rights counselors are available to discuss trends and considerations that may be useful in deciding how to resolve absences from the Army.

COMDTINST M1000.8A Military Assignments and Authorized Absences (June 2019)

COMDTINST M1000.8A Military Assignments and Authorized Absences (June 2019) (2.1 MB)

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

2.A.16. Absence Without Leave
2.A.16.a. General
(1) In general, a member who absents himself or herself or remains absent through their own fault and without authority from the place where required to be at a prescribed time, is absent without leave.
(2) Where an absence was avoidable, but the commanding officer, in their discretion, decides not to take disciplinary action against the absentee, the absence is neither excused nor excusable, and must be carried on all personnel records as an unauthorized absence. If mast was held, the mast action should be recorded as "charge dismissed" rather than "excused."
(3) Personnel absent without proper authority in excess of 24 hours will forfeit leave credit for each day or part of day absent unless such absence is excused as unavoidable in accordance with Article 2.A.16.b. below. When absence is not excused, leave will not be charged; however, time lost will be charged as deductible time.
(4) A member of the Coast Guard cannot avoid absence without leave by reporting to another military unit prior to the expiration of their leave because there can be no exercise of military control sufficient to avert unauthorized absence when a member is still accountable to their parent organization. However, a moment after leave has terminated the member can report to another military unit disclosing their identity and status, and, if military control is exercised, the status of unauthorized absence will be terminated. A member who reports immediately after the absence status begins can limit the maximum punishment imposable for unauthorized absence to one day.

COMDTINST M1600.2 Discipline and Conduct (27 OCT 2020)

COMDTINST M1600.2 Discipline and Conduct (27 October 2020) (1.1 MB)

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

1.C. Absentees and Deserters


1.C.1. Unauthorized Absence of Officers In all cases of unauthorized absence, extended unexplained absence, or extended unexplained failure to report in compliance with official orders, the commanding officer shall notify Commander (CG PSC-OPM) of the facts and circumstances. Appropriate documents must be submitted, as the unauthorized absence of an officer results in loss of pay and allowances. If it is manifest that the absentee does not intend to report or return to Coast Guard jurisdiction, the commanding officer will further notify the district commander or the immediate superior in command, as appropriate, and request advice or aid with a view of initiating all practicable and reasonable local action to return the absentee to Coast Guard jurisdiction. 1.C.2. Unauthorized Absence of Enlisted Personnel


1.C.2.a. Absentee

(1) Definition. The term "absentee" denotes any member not classified administratively as a deserter who is absent without authority from their unit, organization, or other place of duty where they are required to be present.

(2) Length of Absentee. Any enlisted member absent from the Coast Guard without authority will normally be carried as an absentee during the first 29 days of their absence.



1.C.2.b. Deserter

(1) Definition. The term "deserter" denotes a member who has been administratively declared a deserter on the 30th day of absence, or at any time during the first 29 days of absence when one or more of the following conditions exists:

(a)When the intent to remain away from the Service is evident from circumstances attendant on the absence.

(b)When the absence was evidently entered into to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service as defined in reference (e), Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM), United States (current edition),Part IV, Article 9.c.(2)(a).

(c) Where it is known that the member, concealing their existing obligation to the Coast Guard, has enlisted or accepted appointment in another Service.


(2)Required Administrative Actions. Commands are responsible for the following actions and shall follow the procedures in reference (i), Personnel and Pay Procedures Manual, PPCINST M1000.2 (series) when an enlisted member has been declared a deserter. (a)On the 31st day of absence, or in those cases where the member is earlier declared to be a deserter, the member's commanding officer shall issue a Deserter/Absentee Wanted by the Armed Forces, Form DD-553. The command with administrative control of the member's unit will furnish necessary data, where the Personnel Data Record (PDR) is not at the unit.


1.C.6. Removal of Marks of Desertion

1.C.6.a. Mark of Desertion An enlisted member of the Coast Guard is not a deserter until they have legally been found guilty by a court-martial on the charge of desertion. Entry of a mark of desertion in an enlisted member’s PDR is merely a matter of administration and is not intended to constitute a conclusive determination of the fact as to whether or not they are a deserter. Further, the Coast Guard may bring a person to trial by court-martial for unauthorized absence which resulted in a mark of desertion being entered in their PDR.