What if you go AWOL

AWOL and Desertion in the National Guard and Reserves 2021 - U.S. Military Career

Any member of the active military who does not report when and where they are expected is considered absent (AWOL). Even if you are just minutes late for an exercise, you could be considered an AWOL and a criminal offense. However, the reserves treat AWOL a little differently than their active counterparts.

AWOL in the National Guard and Reserves

Army and Air National Guard personnel are not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice unless they are drafted into active federal service. This means that members of the National Guard cannot be penalized for missing the weekend exercises or failing to show up because of the two-week annual training course.

Unless it is called up for active federal service, the National Guard belongs to the state and not to the federal government. However, many states have enacted state laws that mirror the UCMJ articles for Guard members doing government service.

In all cases, whether as a security guard or as a reserve, members who have been appointed to extended active duty (EAD) - for example for an assignment in Iraq or Afghanistan - are subject to the UCMJ. Guard and reserve members who refuse or do not obey EAD orders, or who are absent while EAD is absent, will be treated in the same way as active members leaving AWOL.

What if a Guard or Reserve member fails or refuses to drill over the weekend? The services are typically not reservists for courts-martial who fail or refuse to participate in an exercise. The rules vary depending on the branch of the service.

Army reserves and National Guard rules

Army Guard and Reserve members who refuse to report to Initial Active Duty Training (IADT) are usually fired for "entry-level performance and conduct." Participation in weekend exercises for soldiers who have not yet participated in basic training (boot camp) is completely voluntary. Members who sign up for IADT and then go AWOL are treated the same as active members who are absent.

According to the IADT, reservists who have acquired a total of nine or more unexcused absences from planned wells in a period of one year or who miss the annual training (AT) are considered "unsatisfactory participants". What happens then is left to the unit commander.

If the unit commander is of the opinion that the member still has potential to be deployed, the commander can transfer the member to the individual standby reserve (IRR). The commander can also lower the grade in connection with the handover.

However, if the commander is of the opinion that the member is unsuitable to participate in deployments, a discharge action will be initiated. Most of these discharges are known as disrespectful conditions (OTHC). Since the National Guard of the Army is not part of the federal government but of the state, national laws can apply.

Air Force Reserves and National Guard

Air Force reservists who have been on duty for less than 180 days are considered entry level status. Entry-level airmen who refuse to take part in a weekend exercise or who refuse IADT assignments are almost always fired. Most of these derivatives are referred to as the entry level.

However, reservists leaving during the IADT AWOL are treated the same as active duty members. Reservists who have nine or more unexcused absences from a weekend drill in a year, or who fail to complete the two-week annual training course, are considered "unsatisfactory participants".

In these circumstances, the commander has several options. He may defer or defer the promotion or impose an administrative downgrade or involuntarily call the member to active duty for a period not exceeding 45 days.

If the member has not fulfilled his military service obligation, the commanding officer can even involuntarily recall the member to active service for a total of 24 months.

Failure or refusal to perform such involuntary active service constitutes an absence without AWOL and the member will be treated in the same way as active members. The commander can also delegate the member to the IRR.

If the commander determines that continued reserve duty is not in the best interests of the Air Force, he can initiate relief action. Most of these discharges are known as OTHC.

Marine reserves

Navy Reserve members who have not yet begun IADT and who refuse to participate in drill or IADT orders will be dismissed as uncharacterized Entry Level Separations (ELS). Members who go AWOL in the IADT are treated the same as employees on active duty who go AWOL.

If the commanding officer believes that the circumstances in which the reservist was an unsatisfactory participant have been resolved, he may put the member on probation for six months. Otherwise the commander can recommend transmission to the IRR. Finally, the commander can initiate discharge proceedings for "unsatisfactory participation". According to MILPERSMAN 1910-304, such derivations are usually referred to as honorable or general (under honorable terms).

Marine Corps Reserves

A Marine Corps Reserve member who has not yet participated in IADT, refuses to ship to Basic, or expresses a desire to be discharged, will be administratively discharged as an uncharacterized Entry Level Separation (ELS). Members who go AWOL in the IADT are treated the same as employees on active duty who go AWOL.

If a reservist acquires at least nine unexcused absences or is deemed an unsatisfactory participant for any other reason than excessive absences, the unit commander may either keep the reservist and authorize him to regain a satisfactory participation status. or initiate separation proceedings.

Coast Guard reserves AWOL rules

Coast Guard reservists are required to complete the IADT, report per assignment, and complete 90 percent of the planned, approved weekend drilling per fiscal year. and must meet the annual training requirement (AT).

Unsatisfactory attendance is failure to meet any of the above obligations. Participation is also considered unsatisfactory if members of the SELRES receive at least nine unexcused absences from planned training courses within a period of 12 months.

What happens to reservists who are "unsatisfactory participants" is left to the commandant. Reservists who have not complied with their statutory military service can involuntarily be put into active service if they have not joined forces for more than 24 months. The CO can also choose to send members to the IRR. Finally, the commander can choose to discharge the authorities.

As with the reserves of other branches, anyone who does not adhere to an involuntary command for active service is reported as an AWOL and treated like an active AWOL.