Why can't you just quit the army?

Enlisted personnel enlist for a number of years. They also extend that contract for a number of months. The various services have different requirements and procedures for how early one may reenlist.

I imagine the US is the same as the UK in that you sign on for a specific number of years. Then as your time served approaches you (and the relevant service) can decide whether you will increase your contract.
When I did my time some of the contracts incuded a clause which after you left the service you also had to spend a period of time in the reserve. For instance you might do 9 years service and then 3 more on reserve. Normally of course that’s just a formality and you don’t have to do anything, but you might be called back up in an emergency.

Which on preview is much what Monty said.

Thanks for the great responses! (And lay off the trolling, kawaiitentaclebeast.)

More broadly, the Constitution gives Congress the authority to create laws for the regulation of the armed forces. I’m also too lazy to look up the actual cases, but the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that Congress has a very wide latitude in setting military policies that simply would not fly in the civilian world. For example, the draft does not apply to women, servicemembers may not sue the government for wounds or injuries they suffer while in service, etc.

What I mean to illustrate is that the difference between civilian and military obligations goes far beyond the signing of a contract, but it is a matter in which the Constitution has been interpreted to allow the military to play by a very different set of rules than civililan businesses.

As cerberus and ravenman stated, persons in the military are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). And yes, it runs by a different set of rules than ordinary civilian life. For example, “freedom of speech” is severely limited in the military. In civilian life, calling your boss a dickhead would at most get you fired. Stating that to your comanding officer would carry penalties that would be much more stringent.

Shrug. You said:

We are not all American, most people in other countries would not make such an analogy, in fact most would probably think you were making some kind of ludicrous joke. It just took me a few posts to figure out how you might come to such a conclusion.

If I’ve upset you, I apologize. :slight_smile:

And an officers resignation may be denied.
Anecdote - I know an officer who was supposed to retire in Oct 01. Last I heard he finally was finally allowed to retire last summer, at the age of 68 or so. Several resignations were denied, I believe. (Just health, not any disagreement with CinC as far as I know)

I had other stuff to add, but “preview” saved me from embarrassment this time.

For one reason, the military invests in their recruits by providing specialized training. My grandfather was trained as a fighter pilot in WWII, although the war ended before he saw combat. He was recalled during the Korean War because the Marine Corps needed pilots. There are few other jobs that I’m aware of that begin with the empolyer providing months of training. They’re entitled to recoup their investment, and that’s precisely why there are terms of enlistment.

It’s a horrible idea, as you and Timewinder suggested, to let soldiers quit at will. Nobody is forced into military service in the US – unlike many other countries. If you don’t want to fight don’t join.

We count on having a force ready if needed – for the military just as for the fire deparmtent . If you can quit when you’re called to action, it defeats the purpose of having a force in reserve.

The other thing is, you really can quit if you’re willing to pay the price. If you’re a young kid who just got orders to head for Iraq and you decide to quit, you’ll eventually be kicked out of the military with nothing worse than a dishonorable discharge.

Although if you’re an officer, like Watanda, I suppose they’ll make an example of you.

There is a significant factor at play, though. An enlisted person is subject to certain obligations as the result of a contract, which has a specific expiration date. After that date, the enlisted person has no further enforceable obligation to the military.

However, an officer is commissioned through an act of Congress, and such act can only be repealed by another act of Congress. So even though an officer might “retire,” he or she remains commissioned for life and may be recalled when necessary.

So once you’re an officer, there really is no quitting? I realize this very rarely comes into play, if ever, but that’s the practical truth if push comes to shove?

Maybe, but are you sure that when an officer resigns, his commission isn’t revoked by one of those routine bills that go through Congress just like the bill that granted the commission in the first place?

This answer assumes that there is no declared war or other national emergency that brings into play all of the emergency provisions of the law such as those currently in effect.

At one time (e.g. The Continental Army) this was common, especially during harvest time. And actually you can quit, if you are willing to suffer the penalties, or penalty in time of war. Real declared war not Wars On Fill in the Blank.

For desertions now they don’t come looking for you. They just enter your name in the NCIC. When, or if, you are caught the usual penalty is a discharge.

Yes. The UCMJ which evolved from The Articles of War.

The Supreme Court has ruled that joining the military does not mean giving up any constitutional rights.

Well, my friend’s dad got called up for Gulf I. He was a helicopter pilot in Viet Nam, and retired in the 70’s. It took him several phone calls and he had to go several rungs up the ladder before he was able to convince someone that he was no longer safe to fly or teach!

This is not quite accurate. Officers receive their commissions by virtue of a Presidential nomination and the advice and consent of the Senate, not by an act of Congress. The Senate no more acts to cancel a commission than it does to un-confirm a cabinet secretary.

I had decided that if I got recalled during the Korean War that they would never have seen anyone who could be such a bumbler as to have that many taxi accidents.

Although true, that’s actually not the main legal principle that applies here. In a non-military situation, an employee can quit at any time, even if he’s signed a contract with a term that hasn’t yet expired, and he cannot legally be compelled to return in the same way a member of the military may be.

In other words, the employee has committed no crime, is not subject to imprisonment, and even civil remedies such as specific performance are generally not available to the employer. Enforcing such contracts by compelling the employee to work is unconstitutional involuntary servitude. Involuntary servitude in the military is Constitutionally-permitted, however. Indeed, under the right circumstances, no contract at all is required.

(Note: I chose my words very carefully here. I did not say that the employee isn’t potentially liable for money damages for breaching his contract, and his ability to work elsewhere may, in limited circumstances, be restricted during the remaining contract term.)

Usual disclaimer: general info, not reliable legal advice, see a lawyer in your state for that.

Ah, quite so. I initially misread your post to be referring specifically to the military, not just the government in general. Carry on, then!

Don’t count on being a kid that just joined to keep you out o hot water if you quit. With recruting getting as hard as it is, they’ve begun enforcing a few of the rules they let slide before. For instance a kid I put in decided he didn’t want to finish basic training and went AWOL. After I had heard this the next day his mother called me and told the state police came to her house looking for him. If they ever caught him he was probably charged with desertion. While they most likely won’t put you in prison, a dishonorable discharge will follow you. Employers, can get that information. You won’t get any kind of federal aid or loans. There are probably other penalties I’m not aware of.

There is one remedy to that situation. You can resign your commission. Of course, you also lose your retirement with that.