DSO - Administrative Separation
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Twentynine Palms, California
Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center

AdministratiVE Separation Information

Your Rights

You have the right to

  • Consult with counsel (i.e. a lawyer)
  • Request a hearing before an Administrative Separation Board
  • Present written matters to the Separation Authority in rebuttal to your proposed separation (can include character statements, copies of awards, a personal statement you write, etc.)
  • Obtain copies of documents that will be forwarded to the Separation Authority
  • Waive any of your rights after being afforded an opportunity to consult with counsel

If you request a board, you also have the right to

  • Appear before the board or be represented by counsel if you are confined by civil authorities
  • Be represented by military counsel
  • Be represented by civilian counsel if you desire (at your own expense)
  • Challenge voting members of the board or the legal advisor (for cause only)
  • Testify in your own behalf, subject to the provisions of Article 31 of the UCMJ (compulsory self-incrimination is prohibited)
  • Submit written or recorded matter for consideration by the board
  • Call witnesses on your behalf
  • Question any witnesses who appears before the board
  • Examine evidence presented by the board
  • Cross-examine witnesses appearing before the board
  • Make a sworn or unsworn statement
  • Present an argument before the board closes the hearing for deliberation
  • Be provided with a copy of the report of the board and the endorsement

The AdSep Process
An administrative separation (“AdSep”) is the way the Marine Corps fires people. It is not punitive in nature like a court-martial; it is purely an administrative proceeding. The only question during an AdSep is whether you will remain in the Marine Corps and (if you are actually separated) what the characterization of your service will be. You cannot be sent to the brig, put on restriction, or forfeit rank or pay at an AdSep. You also cannot receive a Bad Conduct Discharge at an AdSep.

There are times when AdSep processing is mandatory and your command has no choice but to proceed. For example, any time a Marine is involved in any type of drug use or possession, it is mandatory that the Marine Corps process that Marine for separation. The MARCORSEPMAN says that mandatory processing should usually result in an Other Than Honorable (OTH) characterization.

The first step in the AdSep process is receiving official notification that your command is processing you for AdSep. This should include a notification letter from your CO explaining the reason for the recommended separation. The notification should also contain an acknowledgment of rights form, include the evidence against you, and a copy of the right side of your SRB. All four of these items are needed to discuss your case with defense counsel.

If, at the end of the AdSep process, you are separated from the Marine Corps you will be given a characterization of service. The three possible characterizations of separation are Honorable, General, or Other Than Honorable (OTH).

If you receive an OTH, then you stand to lose virtually all post-service benefits, such as the GI Bill and some VA benefits. An OTH could also impact your employment opportunities in the future. For more information on benefits at separation, see Appendix K of the MARCORSEPMAN in the references section below.

The AdSep Board
Do you rate a board? If your command is recommending you for a general discharge and you have less than six years of service, you do not have the right to an AdSep board. However, a majority of the time Marines are recommended for AdSep because of some actual or perceived misconduct on their part and this misconduct is what forms the basis for separation. When misconduct is the basis for the separation, the most common recommendation for characterization of service is OTH. If you are being processed for an OTH, you have the right to an AdSep board with less than six years of service. However, you do not have to have the board and can waive the process if you wish.

How do I present my own evidence to the Board?
Evidence that is presented on your behalf can include almost anything. Typical examples include

  • Witnesses who appear before the board to testify on your behalf
  • Character statements from your supervisors
  • Letters from those who know you back home
  • Awards
  • Certificates
  • Academic records

You are responsible for gathering this evidence. The defense attorney or clerk will not do it for you.

When you have committed some kind of misconduct, the evidence on your behalf will be the only thing that can save you at the AdSep board. If you don’t want to gather evidence or the evidence doesn’t exist it is almost certain that the board will agree with the command and vote to separate you with an OTH. If this evidence does exist and you are willing to gather it, it may be worth fighting to stay in or at least get a better characterization at the AdSep board.

What is an AdSep Board and who is on the bord?
An AdSep board is a hearing where you get the chance to tell the members of the board why you should not be separated or why you should receive a better characterization than an OTH. The board is made up of three Marines: a field grade officer, a company grade officer, and a staff noncommissioned officer.

Who actually decides what happens to me?
he board will hear both sides of the case and then make a recommendation about separation and a characterization to the separation authority (your Commanding General). The separation authority has the final say as to whether or not you remain in the Marine Corps. Even thought the separation authority, a General, has the final say, the board’s recommendation is important because the General will usually follow the board’s recommendation.

Waiving Your Board
If you waive the board, you may still submit written matters for the separation authority to consider. Alternatively, you can waive the whole process and agree to get out of the Marine Corps with an Other Than Honorable characterization of service.

Potential reasons for waiving your board may be

  • to speed up the separation process
  • you do not want the hassle of preparing for a board
  • the evidence against you is serious and overwhelming
  • your service record is not very good
  • your defense counsel decides that having a board would hurt your chances of having your discharge upgraded later (by creating a detailed record of bad things about you)


Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms