Q&a | AskTOP.net - Leader Development for Army Professionals
Company Command: The Bottom Line - Army Leadership Guide

Can My Leader Take My Cell Phone During Duty Hours

My Plt Sgt is starting this new thing where he is trying to take physical custody of the entire platoons cell phones during work hours. Is he able to or have the authority to do this?

Company Command: The Bottom Line - Army Leadership Guide

Short Answer

Typically No! As long as it is personal property.


The military cannot confiscate private property without probable cause or a warrant. This would be a violation of the Soldier’s Fourth Amendment rights. The NCO can order the Soldiers not turn on their phones during duty hours or to not have their phones out during duty hours, except for an emergency. If the Soldier fails to obey this order, then they can be subject to the full range of disciplinary actions from counseling through UCMJ actions.

Seizure of property is covered under the MCM – Military Rules of Evidence – Rule 316 – page III-16. Even though I’m sure the intent of confiscating the phones is to keep the Soldiers focused on the mission, the NCO should issue an order as mentioned above and then follow through with subsequently increases in disciplinary measures. The other question would be, is the NCO going to be liable for any damage or loss to the phones when in his/her possession? If it were me and my NCO insisted on doing this, I would obey so as not to be accused of failing to follow orders, but I would insist the NCO sign a hand receipt for the phone.


Now there are some situations where it would be appropriate as long as the policy is approved by the commander.

Follow us and never miss a post!

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.

You might be interested in…

Company Command: The Bottom Line - Army Leadership Guide

Disclaimer: Though all content posted on AskTOP.net is reviewed by our qualified subject matter experts, you should not make decisions based solely on the information contained in this post. Use information from multiple sources when making important professional decisions. This is not an official government website.

    Leave a Comment

    We will never publish or sell your email address, nor will we ever send you information you have not requested.