Early last month, Army Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo (left) issued General Order #1 as a means of informing those assigned to his Multi-National Division North (a.k.a., “Task Force Marne”) that becoming pregnant — or assisting in the effort — is one of several types of conduct deemed “prejudicial to the maintenance of good order and discipline” among members of the 22,000-strong task force headquartered in Tikrit, Iraq. In fact, it ranks alongside alcohol, drugs, guns and similar vices on the general’s list of prohibited activities.
The matter came to my attention when the Drudge Report provided a link to a Daily Mail article published yesterday. Now that it’s out, I fully expect some public outcry about the punishment — up to and including prison time — promised both to individuals who become pregnant and to those soldiers who impregnate them.
For those who think the punishment too harsh for the crime, one needs only look at how General Cucolo addressed the subject in a policy letter — the text of which was provided me by Maj. Jeff Allen, TFM public affairs officer at Command Operating Base Speicher — released to coincide with the general order.
“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,” he wrote. “And I believe there should be negative consequences for making that personal choice.”
He added that he considers “the male soldier responsible for taking a soldier out of the fight just as responsible as the female soldier who must redeploy.”
Is the policy working? Tough to tell as I’m awaiting an answer from Major Allen.
Since the general order was issued Nov. 4, however, seven members of Task Force Marne have been reprimanded, according to the major. Among those, four pregnant soldiers — including one who did not want to identify the other soldier involved — have been returned to their home stations.
UPDATE 12/21/09 at 3 p.m. Central: Major Allen told me that, because the unit has been in country for only a short time, they do not have records sufficient for comparison to the totals since Nov. 4. That in mind, I’ll check back with him in a few months to see if the numbers go up or down.
UPDATE #2 12/22/09 at 11:08 a.m. Central:
- ABC reports today that General Cucolo has backed off threats of court-martial for pregnant troops and, secondly, that the always-pro-abortion National Organization for Women has entered the fray, quoting NOW President Terry O’Neill as saying, “How dare any government say we’re going to impose any kind of punishment on women for getting pregnant. This is not the 1800s.”
- I didn’t include it in the original post above, but General Cucolo knew his action would attract nutjobs like O’Neill. In the final paragraph of his policy letter, the general wrote, “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 motivate thoughtful and responsible behavior among our soldiers.