Military Willful Disobedience: Definition, Traits, and Punishments

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Did you know that there are over 2 million members of the US armed forces? With such a large military, there are bound to be rules broken. One of the most common crimes committed by military personnel is willful disobedience.

You may be facing charges of insubordination. Or you could be looking to better understand the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If so, this article is for you.

Here are the basic things you need to know about willful military disobedience.

What Is Willful Disobedience?

Willful disobedience is otherwise known as insubordination. It is where a service member disobeys a lawful order by a superior commissioned officer.

It extends to striking or abusing a superior officer, or choosing to ignore military regulations.

Articles 90, 91, and 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice make willful disobedience a crime.


There may be some instances when individuals feel it necessary to disobey an order. They may feel the order is putting them and others at risk, or that it is unlawful. This is sometimes called ‘disciplined disobedience.’

In the eyes of the Uniform Code, disciplined disobedience remains insubordination. You are still choosing to disobey. Service members that conduct disobedience in this instance show three major personality traits.


A disobeying individual thinks beyond the chain of command. They usually understand Army Values well and don’t need prompting to act on them. They often have little regard for their own personal well-being.

Accepting Risks

Disobedient service members usually do not fear risks in the same way as others. They will consider the benefit of the risks they take before the consequences. For instance, they consider the benefits of insubordination greater than the punishment.

Thinking Strategically

Service members showing disciplined disobedience can think strategically. They will understand regional and cultural factors of combat. And can assess the severity of a situation.

Their ability to strategize helps them to achieve victory through independent thinking.


Willful disobedience is a serious offense in the US military and can lead to a court-martial. There are several punishments you can face if you’re charged. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Bad-conduct discharge
  • Loss of all pay
  • Loss of all allowances
  • Imprisonment for up to two years

Punishment severity may differ depending on rank and reason for disobedience.

Are You Facing Charges?

If you’re facing a court-martial for willful disobedience, you may feel wrongly charged. In this case, you should seek the advice of a Military Defense Lawyer.

You may claim to have disobeyed unlawful orders or acted with discipline. In this instance, military defense lawyers will be able to build a case in your favor.

Now You Know the Basics of Military Willful Disobedience

After reading this guide, you should have a better understanding of military willful disobedience.

You should now know what it is, who is likely to commit insubordination, and its punishments. As well as the role of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in disobedience.

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