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Lawful Orders

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What is a lawful order?

A lawful order is any order that is given by a superior non-commissioned officer or commissioned officer in line of a regulation, given to aid in the success of the mission, they should not be given based on personal beliefs and preferences, especially if they go against point 1 and 2, and never be used to obtain pleasure nor profit. The official definition of a lawful order, as determined by the court case United States vs. Deisher, is as follows: they must be issued by competent authority or a person authorized by applicable law to give such an order; they must specifically communicate the words that express a specific mandate to do or not do a specific act; and there must be a relationship of the mandate to a military duty. Any order or mandates that goes against these statements are unlawful orders. If you believe an order to be unlawful, you have the right to challenge it, however, if it is in fact found to be a lawful order, then you must follow it or risk punishment.

If you fail to obey a lawful order, you can be punished under the punitive articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, specifically Articles ninety, ninety one, or ninety two. Article ninety is the assault of or willfully disobeying any commissioned officer. Assault in this case is defined as any person who strikes his superior commissioned officer or draws or lifts up any weapon or offers any violence against him while he is in the execution of his office. Any person who disobeys a superior commissioned officer shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, and if the offense is committed at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct.

Article ninety-one is defined as any Insubordinate conduct toward any warrant officer, non commissioned officer, or petty officer. This is defined further as any warrant officer or enlisted member who strikes or assaults a warrant officer, non-commissioned officer, or petty officer, while that officer is in the execution of his office, willfully disobeys the lawful order of a warrant officer, noncommissioned officer, or petty officer, or treats with contempt or is disrespectful in language or deportment toward a warrant officer, noncommissioned officer, or petty officer while that officer is in the execution of his office; shall be punished as a court-martial may direct. Finally you have article ninety-two, the failure to obey an order or regulation. This can be defined as any person who violates or fails to obey any lawful general order or regulation, having knowledge of any other lawful order issued by a member of the armed forces, which it is his duty to obey, fails to obey the order, or is derelict in the performance of his or her duties; and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

In conclusion, lawful orders are a very important part of the military lifestyle. It is imperative that all military members follow and obey orders given to them is such a manner as deemed necessary by the situation. Not only is it incredibly disrespectful to disobey a lawful order, it makes the individual look unprofessional and bring about a bad image to those that surround them. Failure to follow lawful orders is not taken lightly as, depending on the situation, you can be punished by court marshal, up to death. Everyone in the military should think long and hard before deciding to disobey a lawful order. It serves in everyone’s best interest to follow any lawful order given and in the end make everyone’s life easier.

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Lawful Orders. (2018, September 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from
“Lawful Orders.” GradesFixer, 27 Sept. 2018,
Lawful Orders. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Nov. 2021].
Lawful Orders [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Sept 27 [cited 2021 Nov 29]. Available from:
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