Rights Under Law


Members of the military have rights under the U.S. Constitution, laws passed by Congress, and the military's own regulations. Military regulations give you important ways to voice your opinion about what's going on in Iraq. They also impose important limitations. People in the military don't have the same constitutional right to express themselves as civilians do.

The military regulation that covers protest and dissent by members of the military is

 DoD Directive 1325.6—

"Guidelines for Handling Dissident and Protest Activities
Among Members of the Armed Forces.”

The command may prohibit members from distributing written materials on base, other than through "official outlets," without prior approval. However, the command may not prevent you from distributing printed material simply because it is critical of government policies or officials.

DoD Directive 1325.6 says it is DoD policy to preserve military members' "right of expression… to the maximum extent possible, consistent with good order and discipline and the national security." Members of the military may attend demonstrations but only in the United States and only when they are off base, off duty, and out of uniform.


Article 3.5.7 DoD Directive 1325.6 provides the right of service members to complain and request redress of grievances against actions of their commanders.  (IMPORTANT NOTE:  A redress is not to be confused with a petition. The action taken here by individual service members is an Appeal for Redress to End the War in Iraq.)

DoD Directive 7050.6—

“Military Whistleblower Protection Act”

DoD Directive 7050.6, otherwise known as the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, provides for the following rights:

4.1 Members of the Armed Forces shall be free to make a protected communication to:

4.1.1—A Member of Congress
            Articles 4.2-4.4- Military members are protected against reprisals for such communication.

If the command tries to retaliate against you for exercising your free speech rights, get some legal assistance. Talk with a civilian military counselor and/or a civilian attorney familiar with military law. You may be able to file a complaint under Article 138 of the UCMJ1. You may be able to file a complaint under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act. There may be other legal channels. An attorney or counselor can help you file a complaint or communicate with your command about the problem.

    1Chapter 47, Uniform Code of Military Justice, SubChapterXI, Miscellaneous Provisions, Sec. 935. Scroll to Art. 138, “Complaints of Wrongs.”

See also
DoD Directive 1344.10

Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces on Active Duty

This Directive reissues the earlier Directive 1344.10, “Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces,” that was issued June 15, 1990, and updated August 2, 2004. This Directive states that, while members of the Armed Forces are prohibited in engaging in certain political activities, “It is DoD policy to encourage members of the Armed Forces . . . to carry out obligations of citizenship.”  More information >>

You may also call the G.I. Rights Hotline at

(800) 394-9544
or (510) 465-1472 (also international calls)