Article 101 Improper use of Countersign
Article 101 covers the incorrect use of the countersign or parole. When
an enlisted member discloses the parole or countersign to a person who
is not authorized to receive it, he violates article 101. This article
also covers incidents when an incorrect countersign is given by an authorized
enlisted member to another who is entitled to receive it and use it. These
are offenses that can be committed only during wartime. If found guilty,
the accused is given the punishment that is determined through a court
There are different situations covered under this article as follows: disclosure
of the countersign or parole to unauthorized persons; giving of a wrong
countersign or parole to authorized persons. The critical components of
this article are as follows:
a) Countersign incorrect or improper use- Disclosure of countersign or
parole to an unauthorized person
- That the accused revealed a specific countersign or parole to a specific person.
- That the receiver was not authorized to receive the countersign or parole.
The accused faces death or other lawful punishment if he is found guilty
of violating article 101.
b) Giving an incorrect or different countersign or parole from the one
authorized and required to be given
- That, during wartime, the accused was fully aware that he had the authority
and permission to reveal a specific countersign or parole.
- That a specific person had the authority to receive this countersign/ parole
and make use of it.
- That at a specific place and time, the accused revealed a specific countersign/
parole to the authorized person.
- That this given countersign/ parole was not the same as the one the accused
was permitted and required to disclose.
Death or other lawful punishment is the maximum punishment for those guilty
of violating article 101.
Explanation of Terms used in Article 101
- The word 'countersign' refers to a signal, word, procedure that
is given to sentinels to ensure that only authorized persons pass through
the lines. This signal, procedure or word is to be kept secret and known
only to select persons who can enter a specific area to prevent breach
- The word 'parole' refers to a word that is used to verify the countersign
which is known only to commanders or those responsible for inspecting
To learn more about this punitive article refer to the Manual for Courts Martial.
Points to Note about Article 101
- Circumstantial evidence is typically admissible during trial to establish
- During war, the class or group of persons who have the authority to know
the countersign/ parole may vary continuously. To prove that the accused
knowingly made improper use of the parole or countersign, it is necessary
to prove that he acted against the general or specific orders he was expected
- By military law, it is deemed to be the accused person's responsibility
to ensure at his peril that the person seeking to know the countersign
or parole is entitled to receive the information.
- The accused is deemed guilty irrespective of his motive in divulging the
parole or countersign.
- The accused cannot defend himself by stating that negligence or ignorance
was the reason behind his revealing the countersign or parole to a person
who did not have authority to receive it.
- The accused may be found guilty of violating Article 101 irrespective of
how the recipient received the countersign/ parole- whether the accused
passed it on as part of his regular duties or the recipient got the password
in any other way.