Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Official Department of the Army Publications and Forms

Official Department of the Army Publications and Forms  – http://armypubs.army.mil

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What are the penalties for adultery?
  • Where would I find commendations for individual soldiers?
  • How are US Army soldiers expected to deal with hostile civilians?


This site is divided to several sections: Administrative, Multi-service titles, EForms, Technical and Equipment, Doctrine and Training, Engineering and Medical. Much of the material outside of the “Administrative Section” appears to locked behind password authorization, despite the fact that a number of relatively recent army manuals and publications are available in Federal Depository Libraries.

You can view titles and army document numbers to documents. It will be worthwhile to copy and paste the document number into your favorite search engine. Use quotes. For example, searching “FM 3-01.80” quickly brought up several places where this Visual Aircraft Recognition Guide could be viewed. Another title worth searching for is Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks, Level 1, STP 21-1-SMCT that covers first aid, survival skills, weapons use, communications and basic engagement with hostile civilians. In this case, the 2009 edition was available. Not the latest available, but enough for good story research.

Two items that are accessible through the Administrative section (under Publications in the menu) will likely be of interest to writers:

General Orders – The “General Orders” are listed by year from 1947 to the present and seem to chiefly concern unit realignments and individual and unit awards. Awards of Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze and Silver Stars and Medal of Honor have a few paragraphs explaining the award, which make for gripping reading. A few examples are Tech Sergeant Eugene J. Bigda, awarded Distinguished Service Cross in 1948 General Order 4 for service rendered on 28 May 1945 in Okinawa and Staff Sergeant Hilliard Carter, awarded for Distinguished Service Cross in 2005 General Order 9 for service (sacrifice, really) rendered on 28 September 1966 in Vietnam. General orders are also used to revoke awards, but reasons for doing so are not included.

Manual for Courts-Martial – This is actually a joint services manual, so it can be used to put any US military character on trial. This dictates procedures far beyond the military court procedure itself, also speaking to jurisdictional matters and who has standing to bring charges rules for the investigation, and under what circumstances a service member can be confined prior to his or her courts-martial. This 981 page guide has an extensive index, which includes an entry for “wrong cohabitation”, which is defined on page 404 of the PDF file under “Article 134—(Cohabitation, wrongful)”.


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One thought on “Official Department of the Army Publications and Forms

  1. Pingback: Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) | Writer's Guide to Government Information

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