Consequences of Denying Orders to Marines

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The United States Marines, trained in amphibious warfare, accept some of the most dangerous military assignments in the world. If a Marine denies or disobeys orders from his commanding officer, it could compromise the security of a mission. That is why the Marine Corps has consequences in place for Marines who deny orders.

1 Inability to Reenlist

If a Marine gets orders to transfer to another base, and the duration of the Marine's deployment at the new base would result in extending her current term of service, the Marine has the option to refuse to reenlist. For Marines serving their first term, this normally carries no penalty. However, if a "career Marine" who has already reenlisted once denies an order to extend her term in order to transfer to a new assignment, she will receive an RE-30 reenlistment code and the Corps will not allow her to reenlist at any future date once her term ends.

2 Court-Martial

Articles 90 through 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice make it a punishable offense for military personnel to refuse orders from a superior commissioned or non-commissioned officer. Marines who disobey orders are subject to court-martial proceedings based on these articles. This only goes for legitimate orders, however. Illegal orders, such as orders to kill unarmed civilians, can and should be refused, as the soldiers who carry out these orders are liable for prosecution in a military tribunal.

3 The Brig

If a Marine is court-martialed and convicted of willfully disobeying orders, he may be sent to military prison, known among Marines as "the brig." Camp Pendleton in California operates one such prison. In 2006, seven Marines who had not yet been convicted but were awaiting trial were found by reporters to be living in individual cells, with shackles put on them whenever they needed to leave their cells. Military officials defended this practice by citing the "maximum restraint" category of the inmates.

4 Death Penalty

Article 94 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice provides for the death penalty as a possible result of mutiny. Mutiny is defined as the refusal to obey orders from a legitimate military authority, with intent to usurp or override that authority. Even failure to repress or support a known mutiny can carry with it the death sentence. The death penalty is not mandated for mutiny cases, but the military takes any accusation of mutiny with the utmost seriousness.

Alexander Knoll has been a freelance writer since 2008. His articles have appeared on, and the SR Education group of Web sites. In 2004, he received the Freeman-Asia Fellowship to study in Japan. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Knox College.