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A National Guard Soldier had decided to take a voluntary reduction in grade to avoid deployment how should I counsel them?

A newly promoted E-5 in the National Guard, has decided to take a voluntary reduction of rank and switch units so he does not have to deploy. How do I write a counseling for this Soldier?

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If I was this Soldier I would be more concerned about my future rather than a reduction.  If his true reason for requesting a reduction in grade is to avoid deployment, I believe there should be a formal charge against the Soldier rather than an administrative reduction.  The message this request sends to the other Soldiers if approved is clear….if you don’t want to deploy just accept an reduction and go someplace safe.

Before counseling the Soldier I would consult with your 1SG/CDR and have them request a written legal opinion from your JAG office.  My thoughts are his actions are in violation of the UCMJ to some extent and if your leadership team supports this there could be some serious issues for the leadership team.  This issue could explode.  Imagine this….This Soldier gets demoted and moves.  Your unit gets closer to deployment then several other Soldiers say hey I want to take a demotion and leave the unit.  It is too close to deployment and the Commander says no.  Next thing you know Article 138 complaints fly and these Soldiers want to know why they are being treated unfairly because another Soldier was allowed to move without consequence.

Actions that could be considered against this Soldier might include: A relief for Cause NCOER, A change of Rater NCOER with some less than stellar comments, Separation from service, Bar to reenlistment, possibly flagged under AR 600-8-2.

Another issue that concerns me is I understand that a Soldier in the Reserve and/or the Guard can take a voluntary reduction in one unit arrive at another unit and then be promoted back to his former rank thereby gaming the system.  So if this is true, is it fair to the other Soldiers in the unit?

I fully understand that under AR 600-8-19 a Voluntary Reduction in Grade is allowed for the Reserve/Guard but based on my reading and understanding I do not believe the intent of this action is to allow the Soldier to avoid the duty to serve.  Conversely to me the regulation appears to provide this latitude to ensure the Soldier can be put in a position that ensures they serve in the best interest of the Army and allow the Soldier some flexibility.  I have include an extract of paragraph 10-19 for your review.

I understand I have not answered your specific question.  My reason for this is that I personally would not counsel this Soldier until I had spoken with JAG and obtained a written legal opinion stating allowing this Soldier to avoid deployment is an acceptable and legal action.  Taking this action without a legal opinion is setting the command up for failure.  Now if JAG sees no issue with action the counseling statement would be rather simple.  Here some food for thought.


_____{INSERT RANK/NAME}, on ____{INSERT DATE}, you formally requested reduction in grade.  You stated the purpose of your request was to avoid deploying.  I find this reasoning and behavior in contradiction to the Army Values and the obligations of duty.  Based on the information at my disposal I am recommending to the commander that he approve/disapprove your request.


Another option:  _____{INSERT RANK/NAME}, on ____{INSERT DATE}, you formally submitted paperwork requesting reduction in grade.  You stated the purpose of your request was to avoid deploying.  After consulting JAG this action was found to be in violation of_________.  I have recommended to the chain of command that you be punished by _______________.


EXTRACT OF AR 600-8-19 paragraph 10–19. Voluntary reduction

a. U.S. Army Reserve.

(1) A Soldier on AGR status may request a voluntary reduction to one pay grade below that currently held to qualify for a new tour position being offered by CDR, HRC. This is when the Soldier’s current tour position is not scheduled for renewal and no other tour position in the Soldier’s grade and MOS is available. It may also be to provide the Soldier an opportunity to continue on tour in the current assignment.

(2) A Soldier who submitted a late declination of a promotion that was not approved by the promotion authority (para 5–34a, of this regulation). The Soldier will be reduced to previous grade without prejudice upon his/her request for voluntary reduction.

(3) A Soldier may volunteer for reduction to one or more lower pay grades. The reduction requested by the Soldier will be accomplished by the promotion authority without prejudice. Such reductions will normally be limited to soldiers desiring reduction for—

(a) Voluntary entry on active duty in the AA (AR 135–210) or on AGR status (AR 135–18). NOTE: Enlistment at a lower grade in the regular Army, the DEP, the ARNG, or other U.S. Armed Force is a contractual agreement and reduction orders are not issued. Since the soldier is discharged from the USAR, without a reduction action and voluntarily contracts to enlist at a lower grade, it is not considered a grade reduction within the meaning of this regulation. Subsequent contractual reentry into the USAR will not authorize grade restoration.

(b) Assignment in a lower grade to an existing vacancy in a TPU. This reduction is authorized provided the soldier has not attained the maximum years of service in the grade to which reduced (AR 140–10).

(c) Entry into a formal training program or course requiring a lower grade to qualify.

(4) Board action is not required for reductions of this nature. The voluntary request for reduction of an AGR Soldier may be approved by CDR, HRC. Reduction orders will be issued by CDR, HRC.

(5) The DOR will be the date of the grade to which reduced as if the soldier had never attained a grade higher than that to which reduced.

b. Army National Guard.

If approved by the unit CDR, a Soldier may volunteer, in writing, on DA Form 4187 for reduction to any lower grade for reassignment to another position, to another program, or to continue in service. The promotion authority may then administratively reduce the Soldier without board action. The DOR will remain the same as previously held in the grade to which reduced. The DOR for Soldiers who take a reduction to enter the APR Program will remain the same as previously held in the grade to which reduced


Hope this helps!
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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.

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