The United States Army has recently released a policy update to encourage the professionalization of online conduct and the telling of “the Army Story.” The update applies only to the Army and all of its branches – no other branches of the military, such as the Navy or Airforce, are affected – and effectively allows disciplinary, criminal, or administrative penalties to be used against any active Army member, soldier, or civilian employee that engages in “online misconduct.” Although some Army members are seeing this policy as an infringement of their personal right to say or write things in online forums, the policy ends with a note that specifically claims it does not create any real limits or prohibitions.


The policy uses both specific definitions and general interpretations to establish what is considered online misconduct that could lead to penalization.

Online misconduct is define specifically as:

  • Harassment
  • Bullying
  • Hazing
  • Stalking
  • Discrimination
  • Retaliation

It is also vaguely defined as any action, behavior, or “types of misconduct that undermine dignity and respect.” Oppositely, the policy defines online conduct as any electronic communication or data usage, official or personal, which is “consistent with Army Values” and conduct that is already considered acceptable within the military branch. In so many words, the Army now expects and demands that its members act with respect and dignity at all times, even in online forums that are not directly tied to the Army, such as social media websites or online gaming servers. In order to encourage this behavior, the Army has begun the mantra “Think, Type, Post.”

Army members who exercise online misconduct can be penalized with:

  • Rank reduction
  • Disciplinary penalties
  • Dishonorable discharge
  • Court-martial, if incident relates to a potential online crime

There will also be annual training events to update Army members, new and veteran, about acceptable online conduct. Lastly, the policy update notes that all Army members are required to report any incidents of online misconduct witnessed to a supervisor or the next officer within their own chain of command; failure to do so could potentially result in implication and eventual discipline.

Military Criminal Defense Attorney Joseph L. Jordan has represented countless military service members from all branches in a variety of cases, including those that led to court-martial. Army members facing penalty or criminal implications due to online misconduct accusations can rely on Attorney Jordan for fast-acting, hard-hitting legal protection backed by years of experience. Even service members stationed abroad can depend on Attorney Jordan for the most-complex of defense cases. Call (866) 361-4723 or contact his firm online today for more information.