I cannot emphasize this enough. This is an informal "nonjudicial" proceeding. If you look like hell your commander will notice. So get a haircut, shave, and press your uniform.
Learn as Much as you can About the Charges Before the Hearing
If you don't know what the Article 15 is about be proactive. Talk to your NCO leadership and find out. Determine what evidence the commander is relying upon. Did you already admit to the evidence? Is the only evidence the word of a Soldier who doesn't like you for some reason?
Gather Favorable "Evidence"
If the charges are for insubordination, try to get someone to write a letter saying they know you are always extend to them the proper customs and courtesies. Maybe you can present evidence that this was a one-time event or there were other factors (death of family member) involved. Also get evidence that a fine or reduction in rank would cause hardship to you and your family (this works a lot). You should always have a Soldier (the higher the rank the better) ready to testify who can speak about your character.
Courts Martial or Article 15 Proceeding? Make a Choice.
You have the right to demand a court martial instead of continuing with the Article 15. (They are less likely to pursue a court martial in the Reserves or National Guard because of a lack of resources and the negative publicity.) However, even though it is your right, a court marial is often not in your interest. A court martial exposes you to greater punishment. Additionally, commanders and your NCO leadership will think less of you.
If you are guilty of what the charges are and there is a lot of evidence it is probably better to simply accept the Article 15 proceeding.
If you are contemplating demanding an courts martial you should speak with a TDS JAG officer first. I would note that in my experience TDS JAGs don't understand that even if a soldier "wins" he still has to deal with his commander and NCOs.
Mind Your Bearing
If you did it and there is a lot of evidence against you the "best" tactic is to immediately apologize, explain the circumstances, and give the steps you have taken so that it won't happen again. People do strange things in an Article 15 - some will smile and others will cry. Try to keep your bearing. In the military environment most commanders understand when people make mistakes and are looking for contrition and a firm purpose of amendment. Your character witness will also testify that you are better now and the mistake was a one-time mistake.
Many commanders forget that they can suspend implementation of a punishment. This is often called a "pocket" Article 15, because the commander will "keep it in his pocket" to see if you behave yourself. If you pass probation then they tear it up!
If you conduct yourself well and the commander is convinced you have changed your ways they will do this more often than not.
Follow-up With the Commander and NCO Leadership
Remember that you have a military career and it doesn't end with an Article 15. A week or so after the proceeding (unless it went terribly) contact the commander in person and thank him for treating you fairly. Inform him that you appreciate the second change and let him know that you did something positive. Do the same with your 1SG. Trust me, they will appreciate it and might even consider you someone they can give additional responsibility to.
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