Library - Reading Room

Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!

Know Your Rights!

Possession and Distribution of Printed Materials:

A Commander is not authorized to prohibit the distribution of a specific issue of a publication distributed through official outlets such as post exchanges and military libraries. in the case of distribution of publications through than official outlets, & Commander may require that prior approval be obtained for any distribution on a military installation in order that he may determine whether there is a clear danger to the loyalty, discipline, or morale of military personnel, or if the distribution of the publication would materially interfere with the accomplishment of a military mission. When he makes such a determination, the distribution will be prohibited.

While the mere possession of unauthorized printed material may not be prohibited, printed material which is prohibited from distribution shall be impounded if the Commander determines that an attempt will be made to distribute.

The fact that a publication is critical of Government policies or officials is not, in itself, a ground upon which distribution may be prohibited.

Off-Post Gathering Places:

Commanders have the authority to place establishments “off-limits,” in accordance with established procedures, when, for example, the activities taking place there, including counseling members to refuse to perform duty or to desert, involve acts with a significant adverse effect on members' health, morale, or welfare.

Servicemen's Organizations:

Commanders are not authorized to recognize or to bargain with a so-called “servicemen's union.”

Publication of “Underground Newspapers”:

Personal writing for publication may not be pursued during duty hours, or accomplished by the use of Government or non appropriated fund property. While publication of “underground newspapers” by military personnel off-post, on their own time and with their own money and equipment, is not prohibited, if such a publication contains language the utterance of which is punishable under Federal law, those involved in the printing, publication, or distribution may be disciplined for such infractions.

On Post Demonstrations and Similar Activities:

The Commander of a military installation shall prohibit any demonstration or activity on the installation which could result in interference with or prevention of orderly accomplishment of the mission of the installation, or present a clear danger to loyalty, discipline, or morale of the troops. It is a crime for any person to enter a military reservation for any purpose prohibited by law or lawful regulations, or for any person to enter or reenter an installation after having been barred by order of the Commander (18 U.S.C. 1382).

Off-Post Demonstrations by Members of the Armed Forces:

Members of the Armed Forces are prohibited from participating in off post demonstrations when they are on duty, or in a foreign country, or when their activities constitute a breach of law and order, or when violence is likely to result, or when they are in uniform In violation of DOD Directive 1331.1 (reference (s)).


The right of members to complain and request redress of grievances against actions of their commanders is protected by Article 138 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In addition, a member may petition or present any grievance to any member of Congress (10 U. S. C. 1034). An open door policy for complaints is a basic principle of good leadership, and Commanders should personally assure themselves that adequate procedures exist for identifying valid complaints and taking corrective action.

Aboveground, vol. 1, no. 5



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