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Company Command: The Bottom Line - Army Leadership Guide

Can single Soldiers live off base?

How would I report a single Soldier for not living in the barracks?

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This is a recurring issue throughout units I have served in.  The command can not force a Soldier to sleep in the barracks.  Essentially, any Soldier assigned a barracks room is still required to stand inspections, be on any duty roster for the barracks, i.e. CQ, Fire Guard, cleaning, etc., and participate in any short notice GI Parties that may be called if the command determines the barracks are not up standards.  Basically, any duties a Soldier who does sleep and actually reside in the barracks are required to do, a Soldier who is assigned a room and chooses to sleep elsewhere, is still required to perform the same duties.  Also, a single Soldier who has an assigned room in the barracks and chooses to live off base does so without receiving BAH or BAS.

Restricting a Soldier’s movement

Forcing a Soldier to have a bed check and sleep in the barracks is essentially imposing restriction.  Restriction can only be imposed by a commander.  Restriction can only be imposed as part of UCMJ action.  The commander can not arbitrarily impose restriction because a Soldier sleeps off base, even though they have an assigned room in the barracks.  If the command would require all barracks personnel to be in their rooms at 2300 for example, they are restricting the Soldiers’ movement without just cause.

Think of it as telling a Soldier who is married and living in on-base housing or off post that they have to be in their home at 2300 every night.  It’s not enforceable.

Communication is key

It is the Soldier’s responsibility to keep the command informed of where they are staying and to provide a means of contact in case the unit issues a middle of the night recall notice.  By providing the address of where they are staying, the command can check on the Soldier’s welfare by ensuring the area of town they are staying in is not off-limits or in a high crime area.

Reporting an unauthorized housing situation

Now, to answer your question.  Since you know the Soldier is staying off base, inform the Soldier’s immediate supervisor.  If you are his supervisor, then counsel the Soldier on his requirements on maintaining his barracks room along with the duties that go along with it.  Get an address and check out the area the Soldier lives in to ascertain if it is in a safe area.  If you contact the local police they will normally provide you any information about the crime rate in any area of town.  Make sure you have a solid contact number and the Soldier is aware of his responsibility to respond to any recall that may be issued.  Make sure you pass along this information up your NCO chain so the platoon sergeant and First Sergeant are aware.

Should the Soldier begin to show a pattern of being late to formation or other misconduct there are options for the Commander to prevent the Soldier from leaving base and stay in the barracks.  This can only be done though if the Commander has just cause, but that’s a topic for another post.

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and any views presented are my own and are not to be
interpreted as legal advice. Furthermore, my views do not necessarily
represent the views of DoD or its Components.

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Staff Sergeant(R) Douglas “Eck” Eckstein is a former Paralegal NCO with over eleven years of service in the Army. He has served overseas tours in Korea and Iraq. Eck served on active duty for seven years working in the personnel administration field then, after a break in service, returned to active duty in 2009 when he earned the Military Occupational Specialty, 27D (paralegal). He has worked in the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate from Division level down to unit level. He has expertise in all aspects of military law, with extensive emphasis in Administrative Law and Soldiers Rights. “I am not an attorney and any views presented are my own and are not to be interpreted as legal advice. Furthermore, my views do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its Components.”

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  • Scubadive72


    Hey there. Please answer back period got a issue back in 2016 on JBLM Washington I live off base and road conditions were black and they still made us come in and me having a car I was late because the snow was so bad. Just today I was 2 minutes late to formation cuz of traffic and then my staff sergeant is telling me because of what happened back in 2016 if I was late again I will be in the barracks room. Can they force me to stay in the barracks room without restricting me to post. They always be giving me a hard time about living All Phase saying I don’t receive bah that I need to stay in the barracks room and now he’s trying to make me stay because of today

  • Anonymous


    I am a pv2 and I just bought a house am I able to get bah for the house?

  • Anonymous


    what regulation is this coverd under so i can print this out and pass it up my chain of command and my battery is currently having a big proplem with this

    • ECK


      There really is not a specific regulation that specifically states Single Soldiers can live off base that I am aware of. It is inferred because requiring a Soldier to have a “bed check” to ensure they are staying in the barracks is tantamount to restriction. Restriction can only be imposed by a commander for just cause.

      If this is an issue through out your battery as you say, I would suggest speaking with the IG office on your installation. You do not have to make a complaint, just inquire into the situation. I am sure they have addressed this issue with other units on your installation and will have a response.

      Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and any views presented are my own and are not to be interpreted as legal advice. Furthermore, my views do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its Components.

  • Robert Hall


    Thank you CSM,
    This was the information I needed, I will let know know If I need any further advice.

  • Robert Hall


    Hello, I need some advice.
    Today out of know where my squad leader (E-6) flipped out for living off post. He told me that if I wasn’t moved back into the barracks that ” I was fucking done” so I talked to me team leader to (use my chain of command) and told him I want to take this up with the higher ups. So later that day I got called in my platoon leaders office and got bitched out by him and my squad leader and they are saying since I don’t receive BAH I am not allowed to live anywhere but the barracks. I am wondering if I should get IG or someone else involved in my matter. Thanks

    • Mark Gerecht


      I understand I only have 50% of the story here but based on my understand as long as you have your pass privileges in place the command can make you maintain a room in the barracks but cannot restrict where you actually live. Now with that stated if you are late for work, missing some of your gear or uniform and it is off post they could give you a hard time. I know of no regulation that requires you to actually live in your barracks room. If you want to argue this issue I would encourage you to sit down and think about it. Have you been late to formation? Have you forgotten any of your gear for formation or training? Have you given your chain of command any reason to be upset with you for living off post? If not you need to sit down and develop a rational, professional, unemotional argument that you can then take to the CDR on open door policy (also include the 1SG). If that does not work consider going to the BDCDR/CSM. When you go to the IG they simply turn the issue back over to the chain of command to resolve. They will monitor the problem for resolution, keep track of the number of IG complaints from that unit, and if the chain of command does something unprofessional they cannot step in and fix it they must take it to the General and the General will become involved (this is actually rare). With that understood you need to decide if this is a battle worth fighting. If you get what you want and piss your leadership off you are in a bad position (careful what you wish for). They next time you are late for formation or something similar they can initiate UCMJ. Then you will be trying to fight a reprisal issue or unfair treatment issue with the arguement that other Soldiers in the unit do not receive the same punishment for the same acts. It will be a difficult position to argue from since you will have most likely failed to meet a standard.

      Did you find this information useful? We appreciate your feedback!

    • SGT NICK


      You are a single soldier I assume? I let my soldiers live off post under a don’t ask don’t tell policy. I check their rooms to ensure it is in compliance and the cannot ever be late to formation or the consequences will be much severer than someone living in the barracks. Your squad leader is responsible for you and must be accountable for you at all times. If an emergency arise and no one could locate you and your room is always unoccupied someone in your COC is gonna have to answer for that, most likely your squad leader. Make no mistake they will take you down first. TOP is right though they cannot MAKE you live in the barracks because that is a restriction and a restriction can only be implemented during a UCMJ conviction.

      I would just let this boil over, give your squad leader the address to where you will be staying “just on the weekends.” Cover yourself by not signing any leases or something that might a financial burden since you’re not getting BAH.

      • Robert Hall


        Hey thats, My issue was resolved today. My First Sergeant found out about my issue and told my squad leader that I am allowed to live wherever I want as long as I maintain my barracks room.

    • SSG M


      I did the same thing to my soldier befor I did my home work. You can live off post as long as you maintain you room to standard and you have no issues with being late to formation. I would let your squad leader no that by them making you stay in the barracks thay are restricing you and only the comander can do that as part of UCMJ.

      • Sgt june


        I have a big question. I could use advice on. My girl friend and I are obviously not marry but love togther off post. We just had a daughter. And my s shop Said since km not married I won’t receive bah. And also that me living off post requires the generals approval. What should I do???

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