I hadn’t really scrutinized CAAF’s latest annual report until today. But, fortunately, Gene Fidell directed my attention to it. The report reflects an interesting trend: in FY 2006, the court-martial rate plummeted. In the Army, GCMs were down 9.2% from the previous year and BCD Specials were down 18.1% In the Department of the Navy (USMC and USN), GCMs were down a whopping 23% while SPCMs were down 19.3%. In the Air Force, GCMs were down 19.19% while SPCMs were down 11.99%. Only the Coast Guard reports an increase, indicating that its GCMs were up 42% and its SPCMs were up 31%. (Those numbers don’t appear to withstand scrutiny. The FY 2005 report says the Coast Guard tried 7 GCMs and 45 SPCMs that year. The FY 2006 report says the Coast Guard tried 16 GCMs and 32 SPCMs. So it looks like GCMs actually increased by an astounding 229% while SPCMs decreased by 29%. Can anyone explain the apparent disconnect?)

Here are the total numbers, throwing out the 6 non-BCD specials that the Army tried in 2006. (Those appear to be the only non-BCD specials tried by the entire U.S. military over a two-year period.)



Does anyone have a theory to explain such a sharp decline in the court-martial rate?

6 Responses to “Court-martial rate plummets”

  1. No Man says:

    Though I am skeptical of the news media on these issues, I read a Wash. Post story a while back that said commanders were seeing fewer disciplinary cases with the high Op Tempo and were taking fewer soldiers and Marines to court martial. This actually validates that story. I’d guess that Marines accounted for the largest change in DoN numbers, as fewer Navy personnel bore the burden of the War. The CG numbers show that there is no change in a force that is largely unchanged by the war. Though there is some greater usage of CG assets, CG personnel aren’t in country by and large. It makes sense in Iraq where commanders have put in place strict trules on force “off duty” behavior that the force will get into less trouble. Take away the elixir of every soldier and Marine, alcohol, and that alone explains some percentage.

    Did you see the play at first by my fellow Art. 2 follower, right between the wickets! Not sure if he is cut out for the big leagues of CAAFlog.

  2. John O'Connor says:

    My recollection is that the CAAF Annual Report measures the number of court-martial records of trial that have been forwarded to the service JAG. I doubt there were fewer courts-martial, I just assume that there are more records of trial stashed in the bottom desk drawer of paralegals who are supposed to be drafting SJARs.

    On a more serious note, there’s probably a kernal of truth in No Man’s comment on op tempo. When I prosecuted 5th Marines courts-martial, it was like clockwork that whichever battalion came back from a pump would immediately have a meth epidemic running through the ranks. Too much down time.

  3. CAAFlog says:

    It can’t be that the report simply compiles what has been sent to the various OJAGs because it includes acquittals. It is presented as a record of how many cases were actually tried — numbers that are probably gleaned from the various services’ trial judiciary HQs.

  4. John O'Connor says:

    Would you place any weight on court-martial statistics compiled by local commands?

    I can see it now:

    “Hey, Gunny, they need to know how many courts-martial we had last year.”

    “Uhh, tell ’em we had three GCMs and 25 SPCMs.”

  5. CAAFlog says:

    Here’s another question as we try to reason through this. Was the operational tempo really that much more taxing in FY 2006 than in FY 2005?

  6. No Man says:

    I didn’t believe the report either, but that is the only hypothesis that I have heard thrown out that fits the numbers. One would think as CAAFlog seems to suggest, that OIF had no higher optempo in 2005 than 2006. The only other recent theory I can think to throw would be an inconvenient truth and not a real theory. I’l
    l find a way to link fewer C-M, Art. 2, Apprendi, and global warming tomorrow.