Tuesday, May 1, 2012

NJP & Request Mast

Over the centuries, the military has done a great job at refining some processes and procedures for handling matters quickly and efficiently There are two, in particular, that stick out in my mind.

Non-Judicial Punishment
One common U.S. military procedure is Article 15 non-judicial punishment, also known as "office hours" or "captain's mast," depending on the branch of the military.

Think of Article 15 as "Judge Judy" for punitive matters. Although the defendant almost always has the option of choosing a trial by court-martial, they rarely do. It's usually a clear cut case that the defendant is guilty. They'd rather accept the lesser punishment handed out at an Article 15 procedure than a stiffer sentence from a court-martial conviction.

Request Mast
Another very effective, yet rarely used, procedure is request mast which allows any Marine to redress a grievance up their chain of command without repercussions.

A Marine will request mast when there's an issue which can't be handled at a lower level. This process cannot be denied and the request has to be passed along with no more than a business day's delay between each link in the chain of command --- all the way up to the commanding general, if requested.

What type of complaint could be so important that it can't be handled but at the highest levels? Let's just say that you'd better get this right if you're requesting mast. As a matter of fact, I've never seen a Marine, that I personally knew, request mast. But, I have heard of a few interesting stories.

Military Police
The most memorable case of request mast I've observed was requested by a Marine military policeman (MP). The MP had arrested a squadron commanding officer for DUI. The CO was booked and released. But, the case "disappeared." Obviously, the CO had influenced someone to make his problem go away.

Enter the arresting MP, who, if I recall correctly, was a lance corporal. He requested mast all the way up to the base commanding general. Lo and behold, the CO, who was a colonel, was outed. Part of the colonel's punishment was to enter "level 3" (in patient) alcohol treatment.

See, there is justice.

Author: Joe Moreno

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