Just like any other organization, the US Military personnel have to abide by strict rules and as strictly as possible. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) was the bible of the US troops, to which a set of legal guidelines are listed. While most of them are similar to civilian laws, which basically tell you to act like a decent human being, some of the laws are unique, if not downright weird.

History Of The Uniform Code Of Military Justice

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) can be traced back to the Articles of War enacted back in June 1775 by the Second Continental Congress. Just a few months before that, the Provisional Congress of Massachusetts Bay sealed the Massachusetts Articles— their first written code of military justice in the Colonies. Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina all followed and similarly codified their military conduct.

Uniform Code Of Military Justice Court Martial Manual
UCMJ Court Martial Manual. (James Sims, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

When the 69 Articles of War was enacted, it regulated the Continental Army with specific applications and directives to cover a lot of military aspects. It was later expanded in 1806, with a new set of Articles of War with 101 articles. The Uniform Code of Military Justice was the first major revision of the military law since its establishment. In 1950, President Harry Truman signed the UCMJ into law. Since then, there have been changes due to some executive orders or as a result of the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2006 and the National Defense Authorization Act 2007. The latest update was on Jan. 1, 2019, as part of the 2016 Military Justice Act, reviewing the set of rules and regulations that dictate criminal offenses for service members and how they are adjudicated.

Anyway, into the unique laws.

Drinking liquor with prisoners

Appendix 2, 896. Art. 96, B states that “Any person subject to this chapter who unlawfully drinks any alcoholic beverage with a prisoner shall be punished as a court-martial may direct,” which was we supposed would be an obvious thing. I mean, if you are guarding prisoners you really shouldn’t be drinking on duty or drinking with the prisoners you are guarding.  We don’t know what incident inspired this addition to the UCMJ, but it must have been pretty legendary.

In this case, the maximum punishment would be three months of confinement and forfeiture of two-thirds pay per month for three months.


If you’re struggling to keep up and tend to fall behind or lose your way during marches or runs, then you might be in for legal trouble. As written by Bilecki Law Group, “A service member who becomes separated from his organizational unit during a march, a training exercise, or military maneuver, is at risk of being accused and convicted of “straggling” under Article 134 of the UCMJ. Straggling breaks down the military’s organizational structures, making them susceptible to enemy attacks.”

While stragglers were often just told to hurry up and motivated to march toward their destination by their non-commissioned officers, this could result in confinement for three months and forfeiture of two-thirds pay per month for three months. So to sum it up, don’t get left behind.