The U.S. Army has a habit of wanting you to show up on time for work, formation, drill and the other functions of soldiering. Most of the reasons behind this curious desire are similar to those a civilian employer might hold, including the simple fact that it’s part of the job. Because of the essential military nature of the Army, though, there are some reasons that don’t apply in the civilian world.
The Army is one of the military organizations of the United States. While your heart may belong to your Daddy and your soul to the Almighty, your hindquarters are effectively the property of the U.S. Army. The contract you signed upon enlistment or upon accepting a commission as an officer says that you will obey the orders of those appointed above you. This includes obeying the appropriate regulations and conforming to the standards of conduct codified in the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Uniform Code of Military Justice
If you receive orders to assemble at a given location at a specific time for transportation to another location and you don’t make it in time, you’re in violation of two articles of the UCMJ. Article 86 of the UCMJ declares unauthorized absence -- absence without leave, not being where you are supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there, a punishable offense. If you arrive late for an assembly called solely to take your outfit to a fast-food joint for breakfast, you might face charges that include a violation of Article 87 of the UCMJ, “Missing Movement.”
Avoiding Operational Consequences
One of the very military reasons you must be on time in the Army is that the U.S. Army plans your day’s activities, including invasions and the discreet events within military campaigns in which you participate, down to the minute. If, for example, you show up late, you might find yourself trapped in friendly fire as American aircraft bomb the location your unit recently quit. In addition to the legal consequences you might face for being absent without permission to be so, you might end up as an unsightly stain on the landscape. If you arrive on the scene too late to provide supporting or suppressing fire, one of your friends might end up in this unhappy condition. If, instead, you arrive on time, that won’t happen.
Leading to Promotion
The Army thinks it’s so important, that you increase your chances for promotion by showing up for work on time. Doing so is part of attention to detail and punctuality, part of the standards by which your superiors rate you in your quarterly fitness reports. These good reports are part of the cumulative evaluation used to determine your potential for increased responsibility and pay.
Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.