December 20, 2009
Don't Ask, Don't Get Pregnant?: Military Policy for Iraq Bans Pregnancy or ImpregnantingStars and Stripes, The Independent News Source for the U.S. Military Community, is reporting that a policy which went into effect in early November, and just reported, restricts the reproductive rights of military and civilian personnel:
The rule governs all those serving under Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo III, who commands Multi-National Division-North, including Balad, Kirkuk, Tikrit, Mosul and Samarra. According to the order, it is “applicable to all United States military personnel, and to all civilians, serving with, employed by, or accompanying” the military in northern Iraq, with few exceptions.
Someone would violate the policy by “becoming pregnant, or impregnating a soldier, while assigned to the Task Force Marne (Area of Operations), resulting in the redeployment of the pregnant soldier,” according to the order.
The General Order, Number 1 applicable to Iraq (download here) already prohibits, in subsection q “sexual contact of any kind with Iraqi nationals, foreign nationals, or local nationals who are not members of collation forces,” and in subsection r “cohabitation, residing, or spending the night in living quarters of any kind with a member of the opposite sex,” although excepting “lawfully married spouses” and “situations of military exigency.”
The pregnancy policy seems to have no exceptions.
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I appreciate the discussion about one aspect of a general order I have applied here in the combat zone of Iraq. The true intent of my directive cannot be easily understood from one or two brief articles, so I would like to clarify my rationale for the directive.
In this 22,000 Soldier Task Force, I need every Soldier I've got, especially since we are facing a drawdown of forces during our mission. Anyone who leaves this fight earlier than the expected 12-month deployment creates a burden on their teammates. Anyone who leaves this fight early because they made a personal choice that changed their medical status -- or contributes to doing that to another -- is not in keeping with a key element of our ethos, "I will always place the mission first," or three of our seven core values: loyalty, duty and selfless service. And I believe there should be professional consequences for making that personal choice.
My female Soldiers are absolutely invaluable, many of them holding high-impact jobs that are often few in numbers, and we need them all for the duration of this deployment. With their male counterparts, they fly helicopters, run my satellite communications, repair just about everything, re-fuel and re-arm aircraft in remote locations, are brilliant and creative intelligence analysts, critical members of medical teams, in all areas of logistics and personnel support across this Georgia-sized piece of Iraq north of Baghdad, and much more. Since I am responsible and accountable for the fighting ability of this outfit, I am going to do everything I can to keep my combat power -- and in the Army, combat power is the individual Soldier.
To this end, I made an existing policy stricter. I wanted to encourage my Soldiers to think before they acted, and understand their behavior and actions have consequences -- all of their behavior. I consider the male Soldier as responsible for taking a Soldier out of the fight just as responsible as the female Soldier who must redeploy.
To ensure a consistent and measured approach in applying this policy, I am the only individual who passes judgment on these cases. I decide every case based on the unique facts of each Soldier's situation. Of the very few cases handled thus far, it has been a male Soldier who received the most severe punishment; he committed adultery as well. Though there have not been any cases of sexual assault, any pregnancy that is the product of a sexual assault would most certainly not be considered here; our total focus would be on the health and well-being of the victim and justice for the perpetrator.
I do not expect those who have never served in the military to completely understand what I have tried to explain above. Recently I was asked, "Don’t you think you are treading on an intensely personal topic?" As intensely personal as this topic might be, leaving those who depend on you shorthanded in a combat zone gets to be personal for those left, too. This addition to a standing general order is just a small part of our overall effort to foster thoughtful and responsible behavior among our Soldiers.
Proudly serving you,
Major General, US Army
Commander, Task Force Marne
Posted by: Task Force Marne PAO | Dec 22, 2009 1:37:37 AM
On the face of it, this is an extraordinary edict - but I can understand wher the general is coming from.
Once one signs up to the US military, there are few ways out. You've just volunteered for a prison sentence - effectively.
When I was in the Navy (que bridge in a force 10 gale with swinging hurricane lamp), a significant minority of women (teenagers) got pregnant.
I don't think for most is was a specific ruse directly aimed at getting out - it would just "happen" and they were happy to accept it because they wanted someone to love unconditionlly (and vice versa?) and have a family life rather than a Navy life.
Given the military are the same folks who will write you up for getting a sunburn (destruction of government property) I understand why a general has laid down the law re pregnancy for both men and women - they do have a job to do.
Perhaps the US could look to the UK and not make it neigh on impossible to get out of one's enlistment contract. Then people not suited to military life could get out honorably (or even on an admin basis) and not feel the need to get pregnant to do so.
Posted by: Kris | Dec 24, 2009 1:56:12 AM