court-martial proceedings would be an inadequate disposition of the case, he can forward the
charges to the general court-martial convening authority. investigation concerning the offense has
been made. This investigation is known as an Article 32 investigation because Article 32 of the
UCMJ requires it. Pretrial investigation is normally convened by the special court-martial authority
when he feels that the case should be disposed of by a general court-martial.
20. The Article 32 investigation is the equivalent of a grand jury in civilian life. Its' purpose
is to inquire into the truth of the charges and specifications, the correctness of their form, and to
determine whether or not the government is justified in alleging the accused has committed a crime.
This pretrial investigation protects both the accused and the government from needless trials by
screening the charges and evidence before they are referred to a general court-martial. The Article
32 investigating officer is appointed by the same commander who convened the investigation. This
officer should be mature, open minded, fair, and preferably of field-grade rank. It is not his
function to determine innocence or guilt of the accused, but to gather and weigh impartially all
available facts in arriving at his conclusion of whether or not the case should be referred to court-
21. The record of the Article 32 investigation and the investigating officer's recommendations
are submitted to the general court-martial convening authority. The Article 32 investigating officer
has no subpoena powers and the investigation is similar to a general court-martial proceeding in
many respects, for each witness testifies under oath. The accused has the right to cross-examination
and the right to be represented by a qualified military attorney furnished by the government or a
civilian attorney furnished at his own expense.
22. In addition to an Article 32 investigation, before a general court-martial can be held, the
convening authority must refer the charges to his staff judge advocate for consideration and advice.
23. General Court-Martial (GCM). After an Article 32 investigation has been conducted, the
commander may forward the charges and specifications with his recommendations for trial to the
commander with general court-martial jurisdiction. The convening authority for a general court-
martial is usually the post or division commander. He has all the other possible options open to
him. He may dismiss the charges; take administrative action; offer an Article 15; or convene a
summary, special, or general court-martial.
24. Membership on a general court-martial may consist of a military judge and not less than
five members. Or it may consist of only a military judge if the accused so requests before the court
assembles. If five or more members are present on the court, they will be commissioned officers,
unless the accused requests enlisted personnel on the court. Then, at least one-third of the members
must be enlisted personnel.
25. Any person subject to the UCMJ may be tried by a general court-martial. The accused
must be assigned a qualified military attorney. However, he has the right to hire his own civilian
26. The maximum punishment imposed by a GCM is specified in the Table of Maximum
allowances, punitive discharge, and reduction to E1. For some offenses, it may include death.