The Army Leave Regulation: A Must-Know For Everyone

I was scrolling Twitter today and came across this post:

Here, it seemingly requires Soldiers to gather these documents or dates for leave or a pass. However, as I read the comments, I grew curious about the Army’s pass/leave policy and what commanders are allowed to require for leave or pass.

I’ll reference some parts of the Leaves and Passes regulation and then provide some commentary.

The Regulation

AR 600-8-10 Leaves and Passes (June 2020) outlines the Army’s leave and pass policy. In it, you can reference chargeable/non-chargeable leave, special leave, leave accrual, and other policies referencing leave.

Use the DA31 Request and Authority for Leave form to submit leave. Here’s where you can get it:

  1. Click here for the PDF form.
  2. Download the form (it’s encrypted, so you cannot fill it out in the web browser)
  3. Save it to your desktop
  4. Open the form and fill it out.

Also, the DA Form 4187 is useful for other special leave. Follow the same steps above.

The Commander’s Responsibility

Regarding the Twitter post, AR 600-8-10 doesn’t specify what a commander can and cannot request when a Soldier submits for leave. However, the regulation lays out some interesting policies, and I’ll go through them individually.

  1. Commanders will–
    a. Establish policies and procedures for leave, pass, and administrative absences that–
        i. Provide equal treatment of officers and enlisted members (per 10 USC 704)
        ii. Provide respite from the work environment in ways that will contribute to improved performance and increased motivation.
        iii. Ensure maximum use of earned leave, minimize the loss of leave, and reduce the cost of payments for unused accrued leave (AR 600-8-10, 2020, p3).

There’s a lot to address here. But, first, we have to ask some questions: does the leave/pass policy proposed by the Twitter post above “provide equal treatment of officers and enlisted members”?

What access do Soldiers have to this information that will allow them to submit for a pass or leave quickly? Also, does the unit provide this information to Soldiers immediately upon request? Finally, does the leave policy above encourage Soldiers to maximize their opportunities for leave?

Next, are leaders calling their Soldiers on leave to come in for ‘only a few minutes’ to address an issue or complete a task? How many Soldiers’ leave time has been sacrificed on the altar of online training? Sadly, it’s probably more than we think.

Finally, are leaders ensuring that their Soldiers are provided the maximum time to take leave? Perhaps some are, but some probably are not.

  1. Commanders will–
    a. Encourage and assist all Soldiers to use, on the average, 30 days of accrued leave each year (AR 600-8-10, 2020, p3).

I’ve mostly had this opportunity throughout my career. However, I have heard this is not always the case.

Many commanders will wait until December to provide block leave for their Soldiers instead of allowing leave during the year. The opposite is also true, though. Some will allow block leave during the year as well as December.

Here’s the kicker, though, in the next section.

  1. Commanders will–
    a. Provide Soldiers with opportunities to take frequent periods of leave, with at least one extended leave period each year of approximately 14 consecutive days or longer, within constraints of operational requirements in accordance with DoDI 1327.06 (AR 600-8-10, 2020, p3).

Soldiers should be allowed to take leave during the year. However, according to this snippet in 600-8-10, Commanders must enable soldiers to take leave at multiple points during the year. Later on, in AR 600-8-10, it says that “Commanders will announce tentative block leave dates at least 60 days before the proposed block leave period (Department of the Army, 2020, p4.”

So, commanders must provide predictability for Soldiers to take leave for extended trips that require planning.

  1. Commanders will–
    a. Allow Soldiers to take authorized time to tend to emergency situations and other purposes as outlined in this regulation. (AT 600-8-10, 2020, p3)

I believe this section speaks for itself. When an emergency arises, commanders must allow the Soldier to address the emergency. Doing so will support the health and welfare of the Soldiers to take care of personal affairs so they can focus on military duties.

The Army Leave Regulation

Sometimes, submitting leave can feel like compiling stacks of forms together

The Soldier’s Responsibility

Soldiers also have responsibilities with managing leave. AR 600-8-10 is very clear about the Soldier’s duty: “Soldiers are responsible for tracking and managing their own leave. Soldiers who do not use leave may lose leave at the end of the fiscal year.”

Although that section is relatively small in AR 600-8-10, it is a critical piece to leave management. Leaders must know when their Soldiers have use/lose leave. Also, Soldiers may be counseled on their failure to take leave throughout the year if leave is provided to them but not taken.

I also addressed Soldier responsibility in a book review I wrote for General Martin Dempsey’s book No Time for Spectators.

Merging Commander’s Priorities and Soldier Needs

In our People First Army, I believe that leaves and passes are something we need to address. For example, are leaders making leave packets too complicated to submit? How easy should commanders make it to submit leave?

I’ve been part of units where the leave packet was rather complex and others where it was easy. Sometimes, it was as simple as your DA31, LES, and MEDPROs. But I’ve had it also require TRiPs forms (thank goodness those are obsolete now) and flight itineraries, which I can’t always get until I had an approved leave packet. So it was a chicken and egg exercise.

Understanding the readiness issues commanders face, leave, and passes should be simple to request. Right now, I have to submit a DA31, an LES, and my MEDPROs. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I can put a packet together in about 15 minutes. Also, I have to digitally submit it, which can be a dual-edged sword for some.

I realize that commanders have specific readiness needs they need to maintain. However, I still hear stories of people being denied leave for a funeral, a family reunion, a child’s birthday, or even a simple mileage pass.

Of course, there are two sides to every story. However, I believe that leaders are obligated to clearly explain when Soldiers can take leave and provide adequate time to put together a leave form. In addition, Army leaders should remove barriers to taking leave and prioritize the submission of leave packets as soon as a Soldier completes them.

Lastly, should a People First organization create a list of requirements for something that Soldiers are already entitled to? And, since Soldiers are entitled to taking leave–and could be counseled for it if not taken–shouldn’t leaders do everything they can to enable the leave process?


This post wasn’t meant to be a hot take against the unit (whichever it may be) listed in the Twitter post. Instead, it’s meant to open up a discussion about what units are doing to make leave accessible to their Soldiers.

Leaders must look out for their Soldiers, and leave is one of the many factors to track. But, it is possible to allow Soldiers to take leave while meeting the commander’s readiness requirements.

What are your experiences with submitting for leave or a pass? Write them in the comments section below. Thank you for reading!

Photo Credit

  1. Featured Image: Photo by Riccardo
  2. Twitter
  3. Pixabay



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