MILITARY JUSTICE AND BEARING
Every state and city in the United States has laws
against murder, robbery, and assault. There also are
laws for safety, traffic safety, fire prevention, and the
good order of the populace. To discourage
lawbreakers, federal, state, and local governments set
up penalties that are proportionate to the crimes
committed. The penalties range from fines for minor
infractions of the law, to long-term jail sentences for
offenses such as robbery, assault, or manslaughter, to
execution for murder.
The Navy is no different. We have laws and
regulations to govern us in much the same way as the
governments mentioned above govern civilians. For
example, we punish crimes of theft, assault, and
murder as severely as the civilian community. In
addition to those regulations, the Navy has laws that
are peculiar only to the military establishment.
The laws and regulations that govern us in the
Navy exist to help, not hinder, us. In any organization,
discipline and justice are essential. In this chapter, you
will be presented with material about proper military
conduct, discipline, punishment, justice, and uniform
regulations in the United States Navy.
PETTY OFFICERS AUTHORITY
Learning Objectives: Recognize the difference
between general authority and organizational authority.
Recall nonpunitive measures available to supervisors.
Authority is a necessary leadership tool. However,
it can never take the place of strong, positive
leadership. When you make petty officer third class
and later when you advance in rate as a petty officer
(PO), you often will need to consider your authority
and the effect your use of it will have on the people for
whom you are responsible.
Authority ties directly to your duties and
responsibilities. The exercise of authority links to your
acceptance of responsibility. You are given authority
only to support you in carrying out your assigned duties
and responsibilities. You have general authority as a
petty officer by virtue of your position in the Navy
organization, and you have organizational authority
by virtue of the particular billet you are holding.
Your general authority as a PO stems from article
1037 of U.S. Navy Regulations (Authority of Warrant
Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Petty
Officers). Article 1020 (Exercise of Authority) gives
you the right to exercise authority over all persons
subordinate to you. Article 1132 (Compliance with
Lawful Orders) charges subordinates to obey their
Petty officers derive their organizational authority
from their assigned billets within a particular command.
This command organizational structure comes from
Standard Organization and Regulations of the U.S.
Navy. That Navy instruction provides regulations and
guidance governing the conduct of all members of the
Navy. It also specifies the individual duties and
responsibilities of personnel within a unit organization
from the commanding officer down to the messenger of
the watch. Articles 1020 and 1037 of U.S. Navy
Regulations grant officers, warrant officers, and petty
officers the authority needed to perform their duties.
Authority includes the right to require action of
others. We direct the actions of others by oral or written
orders that are subject to general limitations. Orders
must be lawful since subordinates are required to obey
lawful orders only (article 1132, U.S. Navy
Regulations). We must not characterize orders with
tyrannical or capricious conduct (an erratic change in
behavior) or by abusive language (article 1023, U.S.
Navy Regulations). Since authority is given only to
fulfill duties and responsibilities, we need to delegate
only as much organizational authority as necessary to
Ever since the beginning of navies, there have been laws peculiarly
applicable to the sea and seafaring people.
Rear Admiral Albert E. Jarrell, USN