Army Inspector General

The Role of the Army Inspector General’s Office

Army Secretary Testifies At Hearing On Mismanagement Of Arlington Cemetery
Chip Somodevilla / Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Army inspector general’s office routinely investigates allegations of misconduct by Army officials at the rank of colonel or below. Complaints can be filed by soldiers, their family members, retirees, former soldiers or civilians working for the Department of the Army. The office also can be directed to investigate allegations against senior officers at the rank of general, as it was in the 2004 Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal.

The position of Army inspector general was created by George Washington to improve the training, drills, discipline and organization of the ragtag Continental Army. The office still fulfills that role by monitoring compliance; for example, it inspects the Army's chemical- and nuclear-materials systems.

Its self-described mission is “to inquire into, and periodically report on, the discipline, efficiency, economy, morale, training and readiness throughout the Army.”

The agency is not an independent watchdog. It does not report to Congress, but to the Secretary of the Army and the Army Chief of Staff. The IG’s office has only limited subpoena authority; it cannot, for instance, subpoena civilian witnesses.

The agency has reviewed cases involving soldiers injured or killed by friendly fire. It has handled sexual-harassment complaints. And it has produced reports on alleged abuses against detainees by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It does not handle criminal investigations, which it leaves to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command.

To file a complaint, contact your local U.S. office or overseas office.