About the Office of Special Trial Counsel

What is the Office of Special Trial Counsel?
OSTC is an independent legal organization, responsible for the investigation and prosecution of certain “covered” offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). OSTC falls outside the chain of command and reports directly to the Secretary of the Air Force. OSTC may also exercise authority over known and related offenses.

What are “covered” offenses?
The following  constitute “covered” offenses under the UCMJ:

  • Wrongful broadcast/distribution of intimate visual images (Art. 117a)
  • Murder (Art. 118) 
  • Manslaughter  (Art. 119)
  • Death/injury of an unborn child (Art. 119a)
  • Rape and sexual assault (Art. 120)
  • Mails: Deposit of obscene matter (Art. 120a)
  • Rape and sexual assault of a child (Art. 120b)
  • Other sexual misconduct (Art. 120c)
  • Kidnapping  (Art. 125)
  • Domestic violence (Art. 128b)
  • Stalking  (Art. 130)
  • Retaliation  (Art. 132)
  • Child pornography (Art. 134)
  • Sexual harassment  (Art. 134, effective 1 January 2025)

What are “known” offenses?
Known offenses are any non-covered offense(s) alleged to have been committed by an individual accused of a covered offense.

What are “related” offenses?
Related offenses are any non-covered offense(s) alleged to have been committed by a victim or witness to an alleged covered offense.

What does this change mean?
For covered offenses, the decision to take an offense to trial by court‐martial is shifted away from commanders and placed with specially trained and independent judge advocates known as Special Trial Counsel (STC). These expert counsel will partner with installation law enforcement, command, and legal personnel to investigate reported misconduct. STC will independently determine whether court‐martial is warranted in each case. When OSTC declines to prosecute a covered offense, commanders may not proceed to court-martial, but will retain limited disposition authority to address misconduct, which may include administrative actions such as letters of counseling, admonishment, or reprimand, nonjudicial punishment, or discharge.

How does this change impact Airmen and Guardians?
This change is part of broader reforms to reinforce accountability and increase trust of Airmen and Guardians in the fairness, impartiality, and integrity of the military justice system.

How do victims report misconduct and are support services still available?
The process for reporting misconduct is unchanged and victim support services remain available to all Airmen and Guardians. Victims should continue to utilize existing resources to report misconduct, including law enforcement such as the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and Security Forces (SFS), as well as DoD SAFE Hotline (877‐995‐5247) and/or local Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARC), the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800‐799‐7233) and/or local Domestic Abuse Victim Advocates (DAVA), Victims’ Counsel, command teams, and/or supervisors. Robust support services for victims will remain available through these and other installation‐level helping agencies.

How is OSTC structured to provide DAF-wide investigation and prosecutorial support?
OSTC is headquartered in the National Capitol Region (NCR). Six district offices, aligned with MAJOR and FIELD COMMAND structures across the DAF, are geographically located to best support operations worldwide:

  • Headquarters, Office of Special Trial Counsel (NCR)
  • District 1 (JB Langley-Eustis, VA)
    • Air Combat Command (ACC)
    • Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC)
    • Air Force District of Washington (AFDW)
  • District 2 (Travis AFB, CA)
    • Air Mobility Command (AMC)
    • Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC)
  • District 3 (JB San Antonio – Randolph, TX)
    • Space Operations Command (SpoC)
    • Space Systems Command (SSC)
    • Space Training and Recruiting Command (STARCOM)
    • Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC)
    • United States Air Force Academy (USAFA)
  • District 4 (JB San Antonio – Randolph, TX)
    • Air Education and Training Command (AETC)
  • District 5 (Ramstein AB, GER)
    • United States Air Forces Europe (USAFE)
  • District 6 (Kadena AB, JPN)
    • Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)