US Military Academy at West Point/What does this mean?


Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman (or conduct unbecoming for short) is an offense subject to court martial in the armed forces of some nations.

The offense is defined in the punitive code, Article 133, of the United States Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), enacted at 10 U.S.C. § 933.

Article 133. Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman:
Any commissioned officer, cadet, or midshipman who is convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

— 10 U.S.C. § 933 (effective 2008)

The elements are:
1.That the accused did or omitted to do certain acts; and
2.That, in the circumstances, these acts or omissions constituted conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.[1]

Here "officer" is understood to include commissioned officers, cadets, and midshipmen of both sexes, hence the more common term conduct unbecoming. A gentleman is understood to have a duty to avoid dishonest acts, displays of indecency, lawlessness, dealing unfairly, indecorum, injustice, or acts of cruelty.

Hello, Friend.  

If your question is, "What does conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman mean?" then I offer the following found on the Internet:


(1) Gentleman. As used in this article, “gentleman” includes both male and female commissioned officers, cadets, and midshipmen.

(2) Nature of offense. Conduct violative of this article is action or behavior in an official capacity which, in dishonoring or disgracing the person as an officer, seriously compromises the officer’s character as a gentleman, or action or behavior in an unofficial or private capacity which, in dishonoring or disgracing the officer personally, seriously compromises the person’s standing as an officer. There are certain moral attributes common to the ideal officer and the perfect gentleman, a lack of which is indicated by acts of dishonesty, unfair dealing, indecency, indecorum, lawlessness, injustice, or cruelty.

Not everyone is or can be expected to meet unrealistically high moral standards, but there is a limit of tolerance based on customs of the service and military necessity below which the personal standards of an officer, cadet, or midshipman cannot fall without seriously compromising the person’s standing as an officer, cadet, or midshipman or the person’s character as a gentleman. This article prohibits conduct by a commissioned officer, cadet or midshipman which, taking all the circumstances into consideration, is thus compromising. This article includes acts made punishable by any other article, provided these acts amount to conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. Thus, a commissioned officer who steals property violates both this article and Article 121. Whenever the offense charged is the same as a specific offense set forth in this Manual, the elements of proof are the same as those set forth in the paragraph which treats that specific offense, with the additional requirement that the act or omission constitutes conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

(3) Examples of offenses. Instances of violation of this article include knowingly making a false official statement; dishonorable failure to pay a debt; cheating on an exam; opening and reading a letter of another without authority; using insulting or defamatory language to another officer in that officer’s presence or about that officer to other military persons; being drunk and disorderly in a public place; public association with known prostitutes; committing or attempting to commit a crime involving moral turpitude; and failing without good cause to support the officer’s family."

Now, in my own words, based upon my experience in the US Army, "conduct unbecoming" can be almost anything that violates what is expected of an "officer" in the conduct of their personal life, along with their official life when on duty.  It can be seen as a "catch-all" article that covers behavior(s) that are not explicitly prohibited in the UCMJ, such as robbery or murder, but are not within the bounds of behavior expected of an officer.

I hope this helps.  Good luck in your quest to understand.

Best Regards,

US Military Academy at West Point

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Bill Taylor


I can answer questions about admissions to West Point; about the history of West Point; about how to travel to West Point, where to eat, where to stay, etc.; and about West Point`s alumni organization, the West Point Association of Graduates.


I am a 1970 Graduate of West Point. I served six years on active duty and another 8 years in the active reserve. I have been actively involved as a Field Admissions Representative for over 20 years and have participated on my Congressman's Academy Selection Panel for over 25 years. I am actively involved in West Point Alumni affairs, serving in roles both with the West Point Association of Graduates and the local alumni chapter in Annapolis, MD. I also have two sons who graduated from West Point in 1995 and 2001. Both are veterans of the Iraq War and Afghanistan War. The 1995 Grad continues to serve on Active Duty in the Army.

Bachelor of Science, US Military Academy, 1970 Master of Science (Computer Science), The Johns Hopkins University, 1980

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