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If a Trainee refuses to train how long does it take for them to be out processed from the Army?

Our son is in basic training in the army. He has refused to train, He signed his recommendation for a company grade article 15 and was going to find out his punishment this past week 19 but his commander said the paper work was incomplete. How long with they keep him?

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I understand the situation you are facing as a parent.  The response I will provide is one based on my experience of the Army and how things usually work.  Your Sons situation might be different.

In Basic there are several reasons why a Trainee might be separated.  Usually they are separated for Injury or medical reasons.  Basically this is no fault of the Soldier.  In these cases Trainees are usually separated rather quickly.


When a Trainee refuses to train several other issues come into play.

  1. If the Army made it easy for Soldier to stop training or get out it has the potential to cause additional problems with other Trainees that might consider refusing to train.
  2. The Army tends to view this as disobeying orders, adversely impacting the good order and discipline of the unit.
  3. As such it is a serious offense and is usually punished under the UCMJ.  Depending on the offense it could result in confinement although this is rarely the case.  Usually the punishment is reduction in rank, extra duty, loss of pay and/or some combination of these items.


While I was in Basic Training we had two individuals that refused to train.  One just decided they did not want to be in the military.  The other shot himself in the foot.  As an example to the remaining Trainees these individuals remained in the unit for our entire time through Basic and part of our Advance Training as Artillerymen.


To the Specifics of Your Question:

I have no idea of the specific facts concerning your Son’s situation.  However I believe only three possibilities exist.

1. There is simply a problem with his paperwork and it could take a week or two to get it straightened out.  However this is usually a straight forward process and the Army is use to processing UCMJ in Training units and is usually is a quick process.  Just because a Trainee gets UCMJ in basic is not necessarily cause for separation.

2. Your Son refused to Train and the Leadership of the unit has decided to ensure he remains at the unit for some time so that he can see that he should have stayed complete his training and  honor his contract.  This also acts as a deterrent to others who may want to try the system.  As I stated in my example above both individuals watched our class graduate.

3. The last option is that perhaps you do not have the entire story.  This is not uncommon.  You know your Son best.  Usually in these situations the Trainee is not necessarily forthcoming with their Parents.  Usually there is more to the story.

Options/ Regulations:

  1. You can review AR 623-205 which covers separations.  You can Google the Reference, it is on the Army Publishing Directorate Website as well.  This explains the entire separation process.
  2. You can Review AR 27-10 as it relates to the administration of UCMJ and the Article 15 process.  Also available on the same website.
  3. You could consider contacting the Commander of his training unit or the First Sergeant.  Generally they are do not like to speak with Parents as they are dealing with an adult (Your Son) and do not want to become engaged in a verbal argument with Parents.  However, some will engage with Parents who are on a fact finding mission and not emotionally charged.
  4. Should the unit not speak with you….consider contacting the Post JAG (Legal Office) that handles the Training Battalions and/or the Local IG (Inspector General).  Both of these resources can be helpful.  However I must also caution you that your approach to them must be calm, factual, and professional.  You should also consider what you might say to them.  If your Son has not told you the entire story it could cause more trouble for your Son, including additional legal issues.
  5. You could also simply continue through the process and wait for your Son to come home.  The results of his separation and the conditions of his separation will be listed on his DD Form 214.


Almost every leader in your Son’s unit is a Parent.  They fully understand the pains of being a Parent.  Some of these Leaders most likely even have children serving in the military.  Therefore they get it!  I say this because as a they want to do what is right by your Child and by the United States Army.


My guess his your Son will be released when the unit is tired of having him around.  Normally, shortly after the rest of the Soldiers who completed basic training have moved on to AIT.  If he is combat arms (Infantry, Armor, Artillery, etc) in an OSUT unit – he potentially could be there until after the rest graduate their advanced school.  As long as he is discharged with less than 180 days in service, it is still an uncharacterized trainee discharge.


I may be wrong, there may be a limit to how long they can keep him.

 Only You Can Choose Your They Path You Take

While I am sure this response is not what you were hoping for it is a response based on experience and regulation.  I hope I have provided you some information that is useful and helpful.  I fully understand your concern for your Son.  Just as I would be concerned if it were my Child.  I encourage you to think through your response to ensure your actions do not aggravate the situation further.


Did you find this response helpful?  I would appreciate your feedback!


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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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  • Cyndi


    My son started OSUS a little over a month ago. He was so excited and wanted to do this his whole life. He just got home for HBL and has told me everyone in his platoon hates him and is constantly harassing him. He has tried to make amends, but admits when that didn’t work, he dished it back out to them, making things worse. He feels completely alone. He has always had social issues, but I thought the military was supposed to teach teamwork, etc. He said he wants to do a Refusal to Train and leave. I am obviously upset and disheartened. I hate for him to quit and/or get a bad discharge. I do not know what advice to give him. He is very embarrassed and distraught because he feels he is letting everyone down.

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