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Air Force Letter of Counseling, Admonition, and Reprimand

We know how to recognize good behavior. We write solid EPRs, express our gratitude in Letters of Appreciation, or submit deserving members for medals. But how do we deal with bad behavior? What instruments of military law are available for counseling Airmen and correcting improper behavior? There are a range of options available from verbal counseling to Article 15s to administrative discharge. In general, most of us only have to deal with those methods appropriate for correcting behavior at the workcenter level. These administrative tools, in order of rising level of seriousness, are:

Verbal Counseling

Letter of Counseling (LOC)

Letter of Admonition (LOA)

Letter of Reprimand (LOR)

Any supervisor can issue Letters of Counseling, Admonition, and Reprimand. These actions are intended to correct improper behavior exhibited on or off-duty. It's preferred by all concerned that misconduct be addressed at the lowest possible level for three reasons. First, this makes it possible to address the infraction as soon as it occurs because all the coordination is in-house. Second, addressing discipline issues at the lowest level allows the supervisor to maintain control of the situation. If circumstances cause the First Sergeant or Commander to get involved, the supervisor rapidly loses control and the subject of the action will often face more serious punishment than would otherwise be necessary. And third, quickly addressing questionable behavior at the workcenter level will help the offender realize that his actions are serious and objectionable. If conduct doesn't improve, it can then be escalated to higher levels.

Verbal counseling, LOCs, LOAs, and LORs at the workcenter level are a form of correction appropriate for correcting habits or shortcomings which are not necessarily criminal or illegal, but which can ultimately affect job performance, workcenter morale, and discipline. More serious offenses should be referred to the First Sergeant. The reference that specifies the rules surrounding administrative counseling is AFI 36-2907.

Verbal Counseling

The lowest level corrective tool is verbal counseling. This is the unscheduled spoken guidance that supervisors provide every day such as, "You need a haircut" or "Your boots need shining". This type of counseling is normally not formally recorded unless the supervisor finds that the Airman failed to follow his or her direction. If the offending Airman failed to follow the supervisor's spoken guidance, the next step would be either a formal Letter of Counseling or another verbal counseling depending on how patient the supervisor is. If the supervisor chooses to give the Airman a chance and deliver only another verbal counseling, this time it should be documented in a Memo For Record. A Memo For Record is merely an informal record or note to remind the supervisor that he spoke to the Airman about a certain topic on a specific date.

Memo for Record (MFR)

An MFR is not, by nature, a corrective tool. It's just a type of document like the personal letter or official memorandum. A Memo For Record, when used for this purpose, is merely an informal record or note to remind the supervisor that he spoke to the Airman about a certain topic on a specific date. It's only for the supervisor's use and the offender doesn't have to sign it. More...

Letter of Counseling (LOC)

A Letter of Counseling is merely the recording of an infraction. It's a formal way of describing an unacceptable behavior so that the receiver cannot fail to understand it. Often, Airmen don't realize or understand the seriousness of their behavior. A formal letter of counseling is a way to get their attention and let them know their behavior is not acceptable and explain the possible consequences. The offender is required to sign the Letter of Counseling indicating that he or she is aware of the situation. More...

Letter of Counseling Rebuttal

Letters of Counseling, in most cases, are well deserved. If you received a letter of counseling, give some serious consideration to the idea that you may have deserved it before challenging it and going up the chain of command. Is it worth it? An LOC is just a slap on the wrist and normally won't affect your career. However, if you believe you have been the viction of unfair treatment or a misunderstanding, the Air Force provides avenues of redress. And if you received an LOC unfairly, you should rebutt it. More....

Letter of Admonition (LOA)

A Letter of Admonition is more severe than a LOC. It's used to document clear violations of standard. While a Letter of Counseling is used to explain standards and reconcile behavior, the LOA is used to document intentional disregard for established rules of conduct. Like the Letter of Counseling, the offender must sign the letter indicating awareness of the supervisor's direction.

Letter of Reprimand (LOR)

A Letter of Reprimand is more severe than a Letter of Admonition (LOA). Like the LOA, it's also used to document clear violations of standard and is used for more serious offenses. It may also be issued when other, less severe methods, such as a Letter of Counseling or Letter of Admonition have failed to correct behavior. More...

Letter of Reprimand Rebuttal

Letters of Reprimand are normally not written unless there is ample evidence to support them and, because of that, they are more difficult to refute. LORs can have a very negative effect on your career and serve as justification for more serious punitive action. If you received one unfairly or without justification, don't waste time. You should challenge it with a rebuttal as soon as possible. More...

How to Present an LOC, LOA OR LOR

The goal of presenting a Letter of Counseling is communication. Sometimes we just don't express ourselves clearly, there are misunderstandings, and we don't quite see eye to eye. The Letter of Counseling is intended to clear up any confusion and to improve or correct behavior. The intent is not to aggravate what may already be a tense situation by causing embarrassment. A Letter of Counseling should be delivered in private with only the recipient and the supervisor present. More...


A formal Letter of Counseling is normally recorded on an AF Form 174, Record of Individual Counseling, but if you don't have an AF Form 174 on hand, the counseling may be recorded on plain bond paper or squadron letterhead. If using bond paper or letterhead, the format is the same for Letters of Counseling, Letters of Admonishment, and Letters of Reprimand. The only difference is the subject line. When writing a Letter of Counseling, the following information should be included: More...

Writing a Character Statement

Occasionally, it becomes neccessary to provide additional material in support or defense of an individual. One of the most common of these documents is the character statement. A character statement helps judges, Commanders, and First Sergeants make fair decisions by providing a factual description of a person's character. Click here for more information and examples of character statements.

Use this form to contribute examples.