UCMJ and the CowardiceUCMJ and the Cowardice
Cowardice charges are very rare. The last recorded conviction occurred in 1968, when Pvt. Michael Gross was found guilty of running away from his company in Vietnam and sentenced to two years in prison. Officials say there have been only four or five formal cowardice charges since 1950.
That's quite impressive. Of course, often charges brought against a person are lighter in nature but easier to prove.
Earlier today, a military court dismissed charges against Sgt. Georg Andreas Pogany, who had been accused of committing "cowardly conduct as a result of fear" while serving in Iraq. Pogany's commander then charged him again, this time with "dereliction of duty." What is "cowardly conduct" and how does it differ from other insubordinations?
"Dereliction of duty," the charge Pogany now faces, is a more frequent and easier-to-prove crime, punishable by discharge, forfeiture of pay, and up to six months of confinement. Article 92 of the UCMJ explains that dereliction of duty occurs when a member of the armed forces refuses to perform a task either explicitly assigned or reasonably known to be a duty. The crime has nothing to do with fear or the presence of adversaries.