On appeal, the decision was upheld. The court explained: "It cannot be gainsaid that on a military
base, even in time of peace, the interests of orderly military administration require the inventory of the
personal effects of, for example, an absentee...By analogy, routinely inventorying and securing an
automobile containing visible and valuable items legally parked on base is justifiable when the owner is
detained in pretrial confinement...The protection of the vehicle and its contents in the unique command
setting is not inappropriately incumbent on a superior in appellant's chain of command." The court
concluded that an inventory was administratively justified, and had been conducted in a reasonable
manner. U.S. v. Dulus, 16 MJ 324 (CMA, 1983).
a. General. The law governing the conduct of a military inspection is closely related to that
governing the conduct of an inventory. Like an inventory, an inspection is not considered to be a
"search." A "search" is regarded as being "designed to discover and seize objects to be used as
evidence in a court-martial proceeding." An inspection, on the other hand, is "not directed toward
discovering evidence to be used in a criminal proceeding." In other words, an inspection that is
conducted for the purpose of "maintaining orderliness and cleanliness in the normal course of regulated
military operations, with no purpose in mind to seek out or locate a specific item of stolen property," is
not a "search" for criminal evidence. If the purpose is "a legitimate, normal, and customary routine
military inspection" that is not aimed at the discovery of evidence for use in a criminal trial, the
inspection will be deemed valid by the courts. U.S. v. Coleman, 32 CMR 522 (ABR, 1962).
The military courts have long recognized the commander's inherent authority to perform
administrative inspections "in furtherance of the security of his command." U.S. v. Gebhart, 28 CMR
172 (CMA, 1959). Evidence found in the course of a lawful inspection is admissible. The commander
has "broad discretion" in this area "to conduct inspections to assist him to maintain orderly, clean, and
safe barracks, to ensure the preparedness of individual soldiers, and to enforce regulations prohibiting
items of an inherently dangerous nature." U.S. v. Brashears, 45 CMR 438 (ACMR, 197Z). The
commander, then, has the inherent power and duty to determine his organization's ability to do its
b. Inspections under the Military Rules of Evidence (MRE). An inspection, as we have seen, is
aimed at determining the "fitness or readiness of the person, organization, or equipment." U.S. v.
Smith, 48 CMR 155 (ACMR, 1975). This includes inspections of an organization that are aimed at
the"discovery and removal of contraband weapons as a safety measure and not with a view toward
prosecution." U.S. v. Ramirez, 50 CMR 68 (NCMR, 1974).