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U.S. Army Spokesman: We Take Fraternization Seriously

fraternization

U.S. Army Spokesman LTC Jennifer Johnson tells The Pavlovic Today that the army takes fraternization seriously. Even if the officers get married, marriage does not preclude appropriate command action based on the prior fraternization.

While the statistics in the military suggest that only a small percentage of the senior military officers have ever violated the UCMJ and that most of the servicemen and women are honorable individuals, stories of UCMJ violation are still those that make the glossiest headlines.

However, how can we distinguish from the sensationalism of tabloid press catching someone in an inappropriate relationship and investigative journalism that is upholding those who serve America to the highest ethical and leadership standards?

How can we, the media, do that, if we fully do not understand what constitutes an inappropriate relationship by military standards and under what conditions, if any, the professional conduct is violated?

An answer to that is in the Article 134 of UCMJ which, if read and interpreted carefully, stipulates a wide spectrum of inappropriate relationships and unprofessional behaviors, all subject to investigation.

Specifically, by inappropriate relationships, article 134 is not limited to just love affairs but one of the equally punishable misconducts is fraternization, a constellation of relationships between soldiers of different ranks.

For example, in 2013, five Marine NCOs were found guilty of fraternization. In the same year, First Lt. Karneisha Rossom faced disciplinary action and possible prison time from the Army for fraternizing with the man she married. In 1997, New York Times has been writing that “ Air Force Secretary Sheila E. Widnall  granted the second lieutenant a general discharge from the Air Force as punishment for becoming romantically involved with an airman — whom he later married — and initially denying their relationship.

With these examples in mind, on the question of fraternization, the U.S. Army Spokesperson LTC Jennifer Johnson talks to The Pavlovic Today.

  •     What does, by definition and UCMJ constitute fraternization in the military?

Fraternization is an enumerated offense under Article 134, Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and may also be punished as a violation of a general regulation under Article 92, UCMJ, as fraternization is defined and prohibited by Army Regulation 600-20, paragraphs 4-14 and 4-15.

Fraternization encompasses a constellation of relationships between soldiers of different grades that compromise the chain of command, cause partiality or unfairness, are exploitative or coercive, or have an adverse impact on good order and discipline or the ability of the command to accomplish its mission.

Certain types of relationships are per se prohibited–ongoing business relationships or gambling relationships between officers and enlisted or non-commissioned officers and junior enlisted soldiers.

With certain limited exceptions, dating, shared living accommodations, and intimate or sexual relationships are also barred between officers and enlisted or non-commissioned officers and junior enlisted Soldiers. Relationships between trainees and soldiers and recruiters and recruits are also forbidden.

  •     Does the Army tolerate fraternization?

All soldiers may be held accountable for relationships that violate Army policy. Commanders have a wide range of responses available should inappropriate relationships occur. These responses may include counseling, reprimand, order to cease, reassignment, or adverse action.

Potential adverse action may include official reprimand, adverse evaluation report(s), nonjudicial punishment, separation, bar to reenlistment, promotion denial, demotion, and courts martial.

  • Does every Army officer have to follow the rules of non-fraternization or is that flexible depending on the level of the rank? For example, would the Army be more forgiving to the highly ranked officer if found conducive of fraternization?

All military personnel share the responsibility for maintaining professional relationships. All soldiers may be held accountable for relationships that violate Army policy.

  •     If they fraternize, do the officers involved have to get married?

No. Nevertheless, the personnel involved in an inappropriate relationship may be held accountable for violating Army policy.

  •     Does the marriage get them excused from an investigation in cases where the fraternization has led to marriage?

When evidence of fraternization between an officer and enlisted member or an NCO and a junior enlisted soldier prior to their marriage exists, their marriage does not preclude appropriate command action based on the prior fraternization.

  •     Can the officer claim that he or she was not aware of the rules of fraternization or all the officers are made aware of the rules the first time they join the Army?

All Soldiers may be held accountable for relationships that violate Army policy.

  •     What is the general Army practice in the cases where fraternization has occurred?

Commanders will ensure that personal relationships that exist between soldiers of different grades will not influence training, readiness, or personnel actions.

Commanders must carefully consider all of the facts and circumstances in reaching a disposition that is warranted, appropriate, and fair.

They have a wide range of responses available should inappropriate relationships occur. These responses may include counseling, reprimand, order to cease, reassignment, or adverse action.

Potential adverse action may include official reprimand, adverse evaluation report(s), nonjudicial punishment, separation, bar to reenlistment, promotion denial, demotion, and courts martial. Commanders must carefully consider all of the facts and circumstances in reaching a disposition that is warranted, appropriate, and fair.

  •     How is the fraternization being proved?

Fraternization may be proved by any relevant, admissible evidence–direct or circumstantial–including, but not limited to, witness testimony or documentary evidence, such as emails, text messages, telephone logs, or videos.

Commanders must carefully consider all of the facts and circumstances in reaching a disposition that is warranted, appropriate, and fair.

  •     What does constitute a good moral conduct in the military?

The conduct of soldiers and leaders are informed by established policy, Army values, beliefs expressed in codes and creeds, which are part of the Army’s unique culture. The Army expects its soldiers to respect and adhere to established laws and ethical principles while demonstrating the moral courage to do what is right.

***

At The Pavlovic Today,  we deem that getting the wider public audience aware of the issues concerning our military in a way that is easily digestible and jargon-free is one of the steps forward toward bridging the civilian-military divide.

 

 

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About the author

Ksenija Pavlovic

Ksenija Pavlovic

Ksenija Pavlovic is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Pavlovic Today, The Chief White House Correspondent.

Pavlovic was a Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Fellow in the Political Science department at Yale University, Lead Instructor in International Affairs and Security and Politics Law and Economics programs at Yale Global Scholars, Head Writing Fellow at the Yale Graduate Writing Center, Fellow of the “Research and Travel Award in Grand Strategy” from International Security Studies (ISS) at Yale University, Fellow of the Roger Hertog Global Strategy Initiative in Religious Violence at Columbia University, a Doctoral candidate in Political Conflict and Peace Building Processes at Complutense University in Madrid, Fellow of the OSI Global Supplementary Grant Program, and a Visiting Doctoral Fellow at the Juan March Institute. She holds an M.Sc. in European Politics from the London School of Economics, an M.A. in American Politics, and a B.A. in Journalism and Communication from the University of Belgrade. She speaks English, Serbian, Croatian, and Spanish.

Pavlovic has interviewed exclusively pivotal figures including Arianna Huffington, Sir Richard Branson, President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim, Karlie Kloss, filmmaker and founder of the Webby awards Tiffany Shlain, film director Lars von Trier, actors Adam Brody, Monica Bellucci, fashion designers Adolfo Dominguez, Tommy Hilfiger and Donna Karan, publisher and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes; the world No.1 tennis player Novak Djokovic; novelist Martin Amis, as well as big names in the governmental arena such as the former President of Serbia Boris Tadic, the leading members of the first democratic Serbian government and Milorad Dodik, President of the Serbian entity of BIH. Moreover, Ms. Pavlovic has exclusively covered the Cannes Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, Sarajevo Film Festival, London Film Festival, Madrid Fashion Week, The Madrid Open, and a range of other international benefit and political events.

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