I must make it extremely clear that the information contained in this article should only be used as a guide. Since each case must stand on its own merit, it is important you seek guidance from qualified personnel and reference before deciding upon a Relief-for-Cause Report as the primary course of action. These may include the agencies and regulations listed above. Entering into a Relief- for-Cause process without proper guidance could have devastating effects on a Soldier and the command. As a relieving official keep in mind that you must be fair and objective in your evaluation of the situation.
A Relief-for-Cause Report is a serious matter and should not be considered unless the misconduct, willful neglect, or inefficiency of an NCO or Officer warrants such action. This action can be based on personal or professional behavior. In most cases a Relief-for-Cause Report will not be generated unless the NCO or Officer has been given a minimum of 30 days to correct his/her performance. In clear cases of misconduct this authority can be waived by the first general officer in the chain-of-command or an officer having general courts-martial jurisdiction over the relieved NCO or Officer.
If the relief is contemplated on the basis of an AR 15-6 investigation, the referral procedures contained in AR 15-6 must be followed prior to initiating or directing the relief. I cannot stress the importance of seeking guidance from qualified professionals. These professionals know and understand the requirements of a Relief-for-Cause and are familiar with local policies and procedures. In addition, it is important that you deal with the case based on merit and examine all the facts. Treat the individual involved as you would want to be treated in this situation. Make no assumptions! Look at the facts, evidence, and circumstances and ensure you remove the emotion from the situation. Remember that most spot reports or initial reports are not totally accurate. GET THE FACTS! Sometimes you will need to stand your ground against a superior. This can put you in a very difficult position from a legal, ethical, and morality stand point.
Extract of AR 600-20
When a higher ranking commander loses confidence in a subordinate commander’s ability to command due to misconduct, poor judgment, the subordinate’s inability to complete assigned duties, or for other similar reasons, the higher ranking commander has the authority to relieve the subordinate commander. Relief is preceded with formal counseling by the commander or supervisor unless such action is not deemed appropriate or practical under the circumstances. Although any commander may temporarily suspend a subordinate from command, final action to relieve an officer from any command position will not be taken until after written approval by the first general officer (to include one frocked to the grade of brigadier general) in the chain of command of the officer being relieved is obtained. Any action purporting to finally relieve an officer from any command position prior to the required written approval will be considered for all purposes as a temporary suspension from assigned duties rather than a final relief from command for cause. If a general officer (to include one frocked to the grade of brigadier general) is the relieving official, no further approval of the relief action is required; however, AR 623–3 concerning administrative review of relief reports remain applicable.
Note: The paragraph above discusses counseling. Typically this has meant weekly formal/written counseling over a 30 day period. The goal is to provide the individual clear assistance and guidance in correcting substandard performance. The process only need to be conduct once. If a leader corrects their substandard behavior and then again lapses into poor performance the 30 day period need not be repeated.
Note: It is important that you investigate the specific procedures used at your installation concerning the Relief-for-Cause process. Do not contemplate or initiate a Relief-for-Cause Report unless you have spoken with professionals at your installation concerning the specifics of the case.
For More Information on Relief for Cause Reports consdier the following resources:
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