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United States Army
Basic Training Operating Instructions

Entry-Level Separation (ELS)

1.  Reference:  TRADOC REG 350-6; AR 600-35, Chapter 11

2.  No private will be ELS’d prior to his 4th week of training unless he is highly disruptive or suicidal.  In this event, the battalion commander may approve the ELS.

3.  The platoon sergeant will maintain an accurate written record of counseling on each private from the first day of assignment on DA Form 4856.  Most separations require a minimum of TWO counseling statements; an initial one to put the private on notice and a second one to document a second instance of substandard duty or act of misconduct.  See paragraph 1-18a, AR 635-200.  Relate counseling to the Army Values.  See Annex AU.

4.  Counselings must be accurate and specific to identify the private’s unsatisfactory performance and/or misconduct.  The counselings must show how the private is particularly substandard and that it is not just performance/conduct that can reasonably be expected from a basic trainee.

5.  The following paragraph should be used on all counseling statements which involve substandard duty performance and/or misconduct.  It meets the requirements for pre-initiation counseling for most administrative separation actions (“Magic words”).

            a.  You have been counseled for your (unsatisfactory duty performance and or misconduct).  If your performance and/or conduct does not improve, you may be administratively discharged under the provision of AR 635-200 (indicate the appropriate chapter.  A private can be processed for separation under more than one chapter).  This separation could result in the issuance of a general discharge under honorable conditions, or an “Under other than honorable (OTH) conditions” discharge.  As a result of such a characterization of service, you could lose your eligibility for veteran’s benefits and encounter substantial prejudice in civilian life.  Finally, it is unlikely that you will be successful in getting a General or OTH discharge upgraded following your separation from the US Army.

            b.  If the private has received an enlistment bonus or has signed up for the Montgomery Era GI Bill, the further should be added:  If you are separated for misconduct under Chapters 14 or 15; or at your own request under chapter 5, sections II-III, chapter 8 or 16, paragraphs 2 and 5 of AR 635-200; and will have served less than 20 months of a 24 month enlistment, or 30 months of a 36 month enlistment at the time of your separation, you will lose your eligibility for educational benefits under the new GI Bill.  Any money deducted from your pay as a participant in the program will be forfeited as it is non-refundable.  In addition, you may have to repay the unearned portion of any enlistment bonus.

            c.  These “magic words” are already pre-printed on some DA 4856s.  If needed, ask the Training NCO to get some more from the Battalion Legal Clerk.

6.  When the platoon sergeant begins considering that the private should be eliminated under ELS then the platoon sergeant should inform the 1SG and give the private’s ELS packet to the 1SG for review.  All counseling statements, especially those with the “magic words” and the private’s Personal Data Cards will be included in the packet.

7.  The 1SG will review the packet for completeness and accuracy.  Before submitting the ELS packet, the 1SG will interview the private.  If it is determined during the interview that the private should be transferred, the 1SG will recommend a platoon.  The commander will determine if the private will be moved.

            a.  Upon notification that the private is being transferred, the platoon sergeant will collect all platoon equipment and instruct the private to pack all remaining equipment and bedding and move to the designated platoon.  The commander will counsel the private explaining the rehabilitative transfer and the details of what is expected and the consequences of unsatisfactory job performance using the "magic words".

            b.  After the interview, if the 1SG concurs with an ELS, then the 1SG will ensure that the packet is accurate and complete.  If the ELS is for National Guard or Army Reserve personnel, the 1SG will ensure that the private has an appointment with their Reserve Component Liaison NCO, 4-8118.

8.  When the packet is complete, the 1SG will give the packet to the commander for review.

9.  After the commander is satisfied with the ELS packet, he will inform the battalion commander and the Training NCO will submit the packet to the Battalion Commander’s secretary.

10.  The battalion legal secretary will prepare an ELS checklist that the Training NCO will ensure is executed.  See Appendix 1.

11.  The private will not be pulled from training until approved by the battalion commander.

12.  Once approved by the battalion commander, the platoon sergeant and Training NCO will pull the private from training and transfer the private to the Holding Detachment.  The private must see JAG about his ELS and then attend an interview with his chain of command and the battalion commander prior to his final outprocessing from the company and the battalion.

13.  If the private is transferred to the Holding Detachment, the Training NCO must coordinate with the Holding Company and the private must clear his platoon, company supply and clean and turn in his CIF equipment prior to discharge.  The 1SG will visit privates in the Holding Detachment weekly.

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Note: These Operating Instructions were derived from a set of SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for a United States Army Infantry Basic Training Battalion. While SOPs might differ somewhat from batallion to batallion, it should give a basic idea of the instructions that Drill Sergeants and basic training staff members operate under.

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