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December 22nd, 2009
07:48 AM ET

Face a Court-Martial for Getting Pregnant?

The General in charge of northern Iraq is issuing a new policy for soldiers who get pregnant or get a fellow soldier pregnant.

They will be punished and they could be court-martialed. (Pregnancy that results from a sexual assault would not be punished).

Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo says the policy will prevent the loss of additional soldiers at a time when troop strength is stretched thin (since pregnant soldiers are redeployed).

What do you think of this policy?

Post your comments here. Betty will read some of them during the 10am ET hour of Newsroom.

Filed under: Heidi Collins
soundoff (103 Responses)
  1. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    This was a self inflicted wound from unthinking government officials placing females in combat along side of there male counter part's feamales in the past have always been seperated from the males to prevent this verry thing a medical discharge should be inline for any and all female soldiers the military spilt the milk on themselves .

    December 22, 2009 at 8:32 am |
  2. JD in New York

    Does anyone sense the irony here of barring gays from the military? Anyone? (Psst- they typically don't get pregnant or get others pregnant!)

    December 22, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  3. harikonotora

    upon entering the military, you swear an oath of "service before self".
    if you do things in your personal life that jeopardize your service life, you are breaking that oath.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  4. George

    And I thought only China prosecuted people for having babies.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  5. Nathan

    Long overdue, this should've been enacted 6 years ago.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  6. John Smith, TX

    Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo said everything that needed to be said on this matter. Pregnancy in most situations is a willing decision between two individuals, and is understandably a factor of the soldiers lives that should be regulated while in a war zone.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:15 am |
  7. Bryce Barros

    As a Cadet at a Senior Military College that is 80% male and a NROTC Navy Option Midshipmen I have seen first hand that most men and women cannot handle an environment where they're forced to live and work with the opposite sex in such close quarters while being isolated from other members of the opposite sex and expected to maintain only professional relationships with their peers. Kudos to Maj. Gen. Cucolo for learning from the number of pregnancies that occurred during deployments to Kosovo during the late 90s.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:15 am |
  8. Spec. Fiedor U.S. ARMY

    I fully support it. Females have been screaming that they want more and more involved with the military and when they get it, they are able to have a "Get out of war free card"? I don't think so. Males should be punished just as much.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:15 am |
  9. Blackwell

    Perhaps hard for general public to understand, but we are an Army at war (not a nation at war) and hard decisions are required. I full support the commander. I experienced the same problem during Desert Storm. Happy holidays. Pray for our soldiers!!

    December 22, 2009 at 9:15 am |
  10. Jo

    You're missing the point. A pregnant soldier isn't about men not being treated the same. It is about a soldier NOT BEING ABLE TO DO HER JOB. She is CHOOSING to shirk her duties as a soldier in war. That is grounds for court marshall. The commander's order is good; it's about time that someone has the fortitude to deal with irresponsibility. Many people accepted the money and benefits from the military, but have a fit when they had to start EARNING it.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:15 am |
  11. Lynn Smith

    The Army's policy of threatening courts-martial for soldiers who get pregnant is extremely ill-considered. By default, it creates a mandatory abortion situation. Since when does the federal government ORDER abortions? Not only does it create a scenario for forced abortions to avoid prosecution, it paves the road for pregnant soldiers to give themselves abortions because they can't get abortions through the military health care system. Since the Army is also threatening to courts-martial the male soldiers who impregnated the female soldiers, there is also the possibility of male soldiers killing their pregnant female soldier girlfriends to avoid prosecution. (Remember Ceasar Laurean killing his pregnant girlfriend, because, at the time, there was the possibility at the time that he was going to be courts-martialed for rape?)

    Lynn Smith
    Jacksonville, NC

    December 22, 2009 at 9:16 am |
  12. Jayne

    I spent 20yrs in the US Air Force and had to abide by the regulations. Even if I did not agree with them. I think the General is trying to say that some women get pregnant so they can go home. However telling women they will be courtmartialed is taking it too far. There are some who may have become pregnant after returning to the states on leave. This directive is like the general who told troops not to commit suicide. He and any other commander must rethink this directive.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:16 am |
  13. Jim

    I believe this is the right choice. As a retired military member their is no excuse for this type of behavior in a war. For those members who just can't resist the temptation their are such things as condoms, so as I said before their is no excuse. Troop level and loyality to your unit should be 1st and foremost.


    December 22, 2009 at 9:19 am |
  14. Anthony Hahn

    This may be difficult for civilians without military backgrounds to understand, but the Military is a unique part of our society, they are there to preserve the democracy and our way of life, not to practice it. Soldiers even in combat zones have access to birth control products and at no cost to them. The military does not fall under regular law, it falls under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice and a soldier, sailor, airman or marine, along with officers all subject to the same orders. It may seem trivial but to be frank, its the military and civilians need to get over it, and for those who have not served and could, your shirking your responsibility as a citizen too, if your not going to join, shut up about how they conduct business, but if your buddy who is protecting your six is been sent out of the zone due to pregnancy or other self induced issues, it weakens the entire line.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  15. Kierra Brewer - Fort Knox

    Let me guess, Michael Armstrong, we belong on a special FOB where we can get manicures, facials, and knitting classes? Or maybe just barefoot and in the kitchen!

    As an Army wife, I have a STRONG opinion on this one. If a female soldier gets pregnant in Iraq/Afghanistan or just before deployment to avoid duty then yes, I feel a court martial is in order. Not only for the female soldier, but for the male who impregnated her. It takes two to tango. However, if one party is the victim of sexual assault, then only the assailant should be punished.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:21 am |
  16. James

    This may sound crazy to the average American however it isn't anything new to soldiers downrange. During my deployment our command had a no sexual relationship policy in order to keep this exact instance from happening. I believe that the General is doing everything, within his power, in order to keep our forces strong. Whenever we lose one soldier from anything it creates more work for other already stressed soldiers. We are trained to cover down and get through adversity but the General is doing what he believes is right. Another issue to look into would be, females, out of wedlock (being a traditionalist children are usually born to a married couple), getting pregnant in order to dodge a pending deployment.


    December 22, 2009 at 9:24 am |
  17. Spikerz

    Whether people want to admit it or not women are physiclly different than men and are physically impaired for at least part of thier pregnancy. It's unfortunate for all involved but it must be done. Women who enter the military do so by choice – our miltary is an all voluteer force.When they do that they accept the reposniblilites not just the benefits that they recieve. If they become pregnant, by accident or by choice, they devalue themselves as assets in the MILITARY. There must be some penalty or sanctions on them. Take away all the benefits they AND the military men who impregnated them would have coming to them for having enlisted in the military AND kick them out. Then watch the sale of birth control pills go up. Accepting responsibility needs to be part of the equation and consequences are apparently the only way to get through.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:24 am |
  18. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    I was in the military and this thing did not happen in the past until rights activist placed females on the combat line the general needs to go to plan B and start to issue birth control injections .

    December 22, 2009 at 9:26 am |
  19. Michael Kelley

    For as long as I was in the Army (2005-2009), the orders were perfectly clear– sexual activity was not allowed while delpoyed. During each of my tours of duty (OIF 3 and 5) I remember at least one female Soldier who was sent home due to pregnancy, and it DOES affect the mission. Female Soldiers play many critical roles in Iraq, and not holding them accountable for their actions takes away from the enormous sacrifices made by more disciplined, dedicated and courageous women who choose to do the right thing and stay in the fight.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:26 am |
  20. MAJ Walker

    General Order #1 states no cohabitation between Soldiers. Single females and males (regardles of marital status) should face court martial when they get pregnant during combat. As a female Soldier who has deployed 3 times, it sickens me to see the routine practice of getting pregnant to get out of deployment. It's about time our Senior Leaders took a stance.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:27 am |
  21. Alisa Costa

    Under current policies, military women must leave the service regardless of whether she becomes pregnant by consent or not. That is because military women cannot receive a safe abortion when they are overseas. They must take leave to pay for their own abortion in a foreign country or travel back to the US because of a ban on military hospitals performing abortions. So a woman must leave the military to have a baby or have an illegal abortion. It's not right. We should not treat our protectors in such a demeaning manner. If this pregnancy policy is in place, the ban on abortion care must be lifted.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:33 am |
  22. Josh

    I 100% agree with this decision. I have been deployed to Iraq twice so far as a medic and am familiar with this issue. When soldiers get injured (purple heart worthy), you can usually get a new soldier to replace the injured one. If a soldier leaves theater due to a BS reason (pregnancy) you don't usually get a replacement, which means the platoon now has less people to get the job done.

    Also, they have to be evacuated from theater within 14 days. Since they are required to be out of theater, they would get a priority seat on outbound flights, bumping someone going home on R&R.

    Re: Abortions. You cannot get an abortion at any military medical facilities. BUT, your aid station CAN get you birth control if you can't control yourself.

    SGT, US Army

    December 22, 2009 at 9:37 am |
  23. Mary George

    I knew of women getting pregnant to avoid deployment when I was a soldier during the Gulf War. However, the percentage was very low. I think this directive may cause endangerment in the form of illegal abortions and abandoned children, not too mention extreme stress of getting caught.

    Since the percentage is so low of women who deliberately get pregnant to avoid deployment, I believe the directive should be changed to allow the soldier to have their child and then return to Iraq.

    Maybe the percentage is higher than we know. We have to remember that even though these young men and women are in the military and are good soldiers, sometimes nature takes its own course.

    I empathize with the General but I think the directive is unreasonable and possibly dangerous.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:39 am |
  24. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    Heres how to fix this. rotate female soldiers off the combat line.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:39 am |
  25. Michael Kelley

    Denise, a pregnancy is not cause for a Purple Heart. To get pregnant in a war zone, you must make not one, but a SERIES of poor decisions, most of which are illegal (see MAJ Walker's post).

    There seem to be two camps posting here– civilians who can't understand, and servicemembers who understand that this isn't really news!

    December 22, 2009 at 9:40 am |
  26. Tom

    One thing that many civilians do not understand is all the sacrifices our military knowingly make. Among those sacrifices is giving up some or all of the rights and privilages they vigorously fight for, for others. A military person's first duty and responsibility is to their country, personal lives, family, etc. is a far distant second. Civilians may not like this order but, as a retired veteran it makes perfect sense to me.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:40 am |
  27. Rachelle V.

    I am a former Marine Captain who served 13 months in Iraq, a mother of four, and I agree, without reservations, with the General.

    What is not being told here is that before troops deploy, there are a set of established rules that all service-members are bound to in a deployed environment, especially a combat zone. One of these "rules" makes having "relations" illegal for service-members, with, at the commander's discretion, also applies to married troops who are deployed together in the same Area of Operations.

    Having said this, troops who become pregnant or who impregnate others are already violating a well-established set of orders. Also, and this is the point that the General is making, you need to be able to count on your men and women.

    As a Marine, this is basic logic as you are taught and quickly learn to build and blindly trust and depend on other members on your "team". Therefore, when you deploy with, let's say 150 men and women, you have already been training together for at least six months prior to deployment and every last person has an important role. When someone becomes unexpectedly and unnecessarily "medically disabled", it has the potential of breaking down the "machine", or at least temporarily slowing it down. Again, as a Marine, it is basic logic and a harsh reality that if your mission capability is altered, it could potentially cost lives.

    So, in my opinion, the General is right with enforcing regulations already set forth for the men and women who are serving in combat environments. Unfortunately, for him to have made such a statement, this must have become a serious problem for the armed forces overseas.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  28. dawn

    I personally don't understand the hub-bub over this. It is not a new policy. It is "Conduct Unbecoming". Every service member knows full and well, sexual liaisons in a forward deployed area or war zones are unacceptable and NOT tolerated. The UCMJ (Uniformed Code of Military Justice) has strict rules and regulations regarding violations of this sort and is applied equally to both the offending parties. The General is only enforcing long standing standards. For the public to be so disjointed over it is unreasonable because it has no barring on their way of life.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:44 am |
  29. Anthony Hahn

    For thecoments that people make comparing this policy to China, the difference is that the military makes a soldier responsible, they dont kill the babies or throw the parents in prison, Soldiers give up certain rights to preserve your rights to complain, unless your willing to raise your right hand and join, you might consider you are allowed to complain because these soldiers are willing to give up those rights. those who get pregnant to attempt deferring or getting out of deployments have violated the UCMJ. And btw, the people in China are under communist rule, not by choice, the people in the military here are under the UCMJ by choice and violating the orders has consequences. Get over it

    December 22, 2009 at 9:44 am |
  30. vr2601

    I currently work a great deal providing a maintenance service at Ft Sill (located in Oklahoma). I have heard several women say that they have gotten pregnant just so that they wouldn't get deployed, but this isn't unusual. My ex-wife was a medical technician in the Air Force and she came home many times during our first spat with Iraq saying how this person and that person got pregnant just so they wouldn't be able to go. While I was in the Air Force and stationed at George AFB in the desert, we were warned not to get sun burned. There was even a case of a person getting badly sun burned where he was given a letter of reprimand for his actions. I believe rules are put in place because of a reason. This rule is the right thing to do. Just as any rule or order in this case is given, it is normally to protect the welfare of morale and mission of the troops. It isn't fair for a segment of a troop strength be able to do something just to get out of going on a deployment when the entire regiment or company can't do the same thing. The point is when you raise you hand and are sworn into the military you agree that you will go where you are needed. You can't all of a sudden change your mind and dictate to the military that you don't want to go to a certain location just to suit you and your wants. I believe this order is completely fair, it is closing a loop hole that has been exploited in the difference between men and women. Men from Ft. Sill haven't gotten to stay home when their wives got pregnant before their deployment, but women are being allowed to stay here and not get deployed.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:45 am |
  31. Kierra Brewer - Fort Knox

    I don't see why the abortion issue keeps coming up here. Whether she gets an abortion or keeps the baby she still has to abandon her duties and therefore should STILL face consequences.

    And Denise, how can you compare getting your leg blown off to "getting some"? Seriously? Last time I checked, no one is getting orders to bunk up and get close over there. Even if they are married, it's their responsibility to follow orders. There's a "no sexual relations" rule. If you really want to break the rules so bad, there are OTHER things you can do *things that WON'T be listed here* to "get close" that doesn't involve pregnancy as a possible result.

    December 22, 2009 at 9:49 am |
  32. Anthony Hahn

    This has nothing to do with the abortion debate, as a former military nurse, I know that birth control products are available to soldiers for those who are going to violate the no sex while deployed order. The only thing the abortion issue right now would do would make more people question whether the military is forcing young women to get abortions, I think the policy is right, and besides, abortion is not an accepted birth control method, so lets keep our focus on the real question, and keep the politics of couch cushion politics out of it. Remember these people who serve are all volunteers and they know that getting pregnant at certain times is a violation of an order, any action under ucmj is fully legal and not created by the miltary, in fact its the congress and the president and his secretaries that create thes laws, all of which any miltary soldier regardless of rank has sworn to uphold and obey. If your not in the miltary you probably dont underatand this, and if your not, what are you doing with yout life

    December 22, 2009 at 10:06 am |
  33. Bree

    My fiance's unit has already lost two soldiers for coming back from leave pregnant. Often, over there, pregnancies come about two ways, either through sexual assault, or intentionally in a bid to get out of a deployment. I don't blame them for bringing this rule in. We're short on soldiers as it is, and it's selfish to bring a child in the world just to get out of the warzone, or impregnate a soldier because you don't want women over there with you.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  34. Okey

    Did I hear right that 4 women had gotten pregnant in less than one month in a war zone?

    December 22, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  35. thomas

    It's curious that he'd have to even make such a threat... if he has 22,000 troops in theater and only approximately 1,600 of them are women.

    Exactly how many of his 1,600 females have gotten pregnant and needed to be sent home early?

    The media should press him and the entire Chain of Command to release the statistics on exactly how big a problem this is. And yes, take it from a former Commanding Officer, they do in fact track these numbers!

    I'm quite sure that the numbers must be high or the General wouldn't have needed to emphasize this policy. The exact numbers should be the story, not the policy.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  36. CPT Dan Barclay

    I am quite puzzled on the focus on this General Order. This has been the standing order for deployment for the past decade, whether deploying to Iraq, Afghanistan, or the Balkan states. It is the standing order for Basic Training and AIT (advanced initial training) as well. This is nothing new. The enforcement is usually only in conjunction to some other violation of UCMJ, just as 'no adultery' is rarely prosecuted unless lumped in with something else.

    The underlying reason is to maintain a viable force, prevent unwanted attrition, and prevent someone purposely getting pregnant just to get out of deployment. Again, rarely enforced, but there as a deterrent for blatant avoidance of duty. The focus that is different is the holding of the male soldier accountable, which, again, was part of the General Order for a while but not focused upon.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  37. Fred Rodriguez, SFC, USARMY (Ret)

    This has always been a standing policy/order in areas of conflict especially in war where a woman getting pregnant can cause morale problems within the ranks and will definately cause problems with troop strength issues. Maj Gen Gucolo has always enforced this policy while in all echelons of command that he has served in, I know cause I served with him in Bosnia / Operation Joint Endeavor. Blacknights

    December 22, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  38. Daniel Enderica

    As a United States Marine I completely agree with this, since troop go into a combat zone to fulfill a mission, not to play house. Every single person that joins the military knew before hand that they would have more responsibilities and restrictions than civilians. Besides, this also causes unit morale to decrease, and limits the safety and efficacy of military units that are already understaffed for selfish personnal motives. Besides, having been in Iraq, most relations that can take place in that enviroment are definetly out of marriage, which is obviously a factor for the increasing rate of divorce in the military.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  39. Ed Ranzenbach

    Getting pregnant is dereliction of duty. You can't have it both ways, get the benefits of military service without putting yourself on the line. As for the guys, use protection! You have your orders, now carry them out, and thanks for doing what you do. -ear USAF 73' – 79.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  40. Craig Snyder

    Am retired military and I think in the "old days" an indivual could receive an Article 15 for getting a sunburn that affected his/her ability to perform their assigned duties. I sure would not want to be in a foxhole with someone having morning sickness.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  41. Anna Smith

    How will the men be punished? It takes two to tango, will they start doing paternity test? If the female is punished, there should be a male punished as well!

    Also, men can start their families anytime they want to. However, women who are serving are looked down upon even when they are not in the combat zone for getting pregnant! If a woman gets pregnant while not deployed, she will likely be leaving a six month old baby to meet here unit when her authorized post partum time is over. My point is...there's never a good time to get pregnant in the Army! Sometimes you just have to take the plunge!

    When I deployed, 3 of the 4 girls in my unit who got pregnant, got pregnant by their husbands!

    December 22, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  42. Robert Cline Sr

    After serving 26 excellent years in the U.S. Army and currently retired I whole have to agrre with the General. I suffered several losses to female pregnacies during pre deployment and after deployment in support of Operation Dessert Storm back in 1991. Several female soldiers purposely became pregnant both before and during Operation Dessert Storm in order for them not to deploy or after deploying to become pregant so they would be able to leave the deployment area. This greatly affects morale and espirit de corps within any Company tagged for deployments. Why does it always have to be a female./male agenda? We are all soldiers regardless of gender and we have sworn to uphold the constitution to defend against all enemies foreign and domestic and as such should abide by rules and policies governed under the UCMJ. This is not a male vs female thing. Hats off to the General for putting his foot down on this.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  43. Stone

    A good decision and should be enforced vigorously. If you want to be a mom, get out and be a mom. If you want to be a soldier, use good judgment and go be a soldier.

    US Army Infantry

    December 22, 2009 at 10:33 am |
  44. Gerard

    What's going to be next?
    We are sending our sisters and brothers over there for reasons only God knows, and now they can have a family? The irony is we are making iraquis life better and we are ditching ours. What a pathetic decision?
    Wake up America!

    December 22, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  45. Ryan smith

    Craig, I'm navy and I've seen it happen. someone I was stationed with got a DRB for getting sunburn

    December 22, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  46. NavyforLife

    I served in the military (U.S. Navy); and I had a chance to deploy overseas while stationed on board a surface combative unit. And to be honest, this is standard for any (female) service member who's facing deployment. We're told to plan our pregnancies 'around' our units deployment time frame, in order to ensure our units mission readiness is at 100%. Granted, many women who were married would find they where expecting during our post deployment operations (not intentionally planning to); but there was some women who intentionally become impregnated to avoid deployment.

    The only thing I do not like about this new 'rule' is the fact that all service women are now being generalized under this mythical umbrella of falsehoods, that demonstrates the lack of responsibility or concern that female service members have in regards to their duty, country, and service.

    Yes, women who become impregnated while deployed should face reprimand, due to the fact that both she and her partner had to have taken time away from watch standing duties to have intercourse; but! I do not want our women to be seen as sex starved, irresponsible, and lazy service members who have no respect for the military uniform. Not all women who start families post deployment do it intentionally, in which I think each case should be examined and prosecuted on an individual basis.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  47. Anthony Hahn

    Mr. Armstrong sr, is obviously not schooled in how the military is organized, every member is a part of a team, whether at the buddy level or division with teams, squads, platoons, companies, battalions, brigades, divisions, and every person has a job to do, the military is stretched very thin already, you cannot simply rotate one woman out of combat and replace her with another person, first, the person that may have been available may have just been returned, no the policy is the right thing to do, and every soldier except those probably who did get pregnant to avoid service will agree this is the right thing to do, and since I would suggest that if your so willing, pick up a gun and go replace one of those females in the combat zone. or at least get educated in the orgainization and structure of the miliary and realize that every single person is important and needed, and the military cannot afford to loose them because they could not restrain their sexual desires in a combat zone or intentionally did it to get out of deployment.

    fmr sgt, and a proud disabled veteran

    December 22, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  48. Maggie

    I think the policy of courts marital for a planned pregnancy, not rape or incest, when in the military is appropriate.
    Today with the birth control options available, becoming pregnant is unnecessary despite sexual activity and it is unfair to other military women.
    Joining the volunteer army is essentially a contract made by an adult that has responsibilities, risks and rewards.
    The result of the courts martial need only be less than honorable discharge, but it should definitely preclude the individual from benefiting in any way from their service in the military.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  49. Carol

    I have never posted on a site like this, but as a female veteran with a distinguished service record, I could not let this story pass without comment. This order crosses the line. Can a male soldier conceive a baby with his wife/girlfriend without court-martial? What about a female soldier on leave who gets pregnant by her spouse with a very much wanted, maybe long-wanted baby? Is that grounds for court-martial? This is such an affront to women, and such a step backwards for the military. Makes me remember why I got out.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  50. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    So it's agreed women in combat areas are a distraction to the war and to the safety to there fellow soldiers .

    December 22, 2009 at 10:39 am |
  51. JR Welborn

    It is amazing to me that anyone would not do their best to prevent a
    pregnancy while on active duty. Giving your life for your country is
    honorable, but giving your child's life along with the risk you are taking
    is abhorrent. As parents, potential or otherwise, we should always do our
    best to provide our children the best life possible, which, I had thought
    would be blatantly obvious, would include to avoid taking them to war with
    you. Birth control is not rocket science. Pregnancy can and should be
    prevented while on active duty.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:40 am |
  52. Rosabel McCollum

    I am a vetern myself and a woman, I have served in both OIF & OEF during the first surges of deployed soldiers. During my service of 6.5 years, the number of pregnant female soldiers during a deployment, or even within the months of preparing to deploy were astounding. There are in fact female soldiers whom will get pregnant on purpose to avoid deployment. As crazy as that sounds, it is true. I comnpletely agree with the General. Soldiers have a mission and task overseas; and that mission does not constitute engaging in sexual acts. Sexual acts contirbute to complacency, undermining authority, and most of all an unprofessional work environment.
    Lastly, women are not forced out of the military for becoming pregnant; they are given a choice as to whether or not they choose to chapter out "Honorably" under a family care plan discharge. But if there is a "direct" order given not to have sex/become pregnant, then the laws of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) prevail.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:40 am |
  53. Sasha Shaikh

    What is the punishment? If the punishment is serious, this policy goes too far! Our soldiers may be doing service for America but they belong to no one- and should be free as individuals to make their own choices. Should birth control be readily available for those soldiers? Of course! But can we tell soldiers that they "will be punished" if they get pregnant or impregnate someone? That's ridiculous.
    a.) Accidents happen even when all preventative measures are taken- therefore the only sure way to avoid punishment is abstinence. We don't have the right to punish someone for having sex.
    b.) If losing soldiers to pregnancy is a big problem- there's probably a reason for it– a lack of birth control– or perhaps it's intentional as a way to get out of the situation. I'm not comfortable taking away an escape route for individuals who really don't want to be in their current situation.
    c.) Female soldiers will be the ones most affected by this policy- as it is evident that she is pregnant– and not obvious when a male soldier impregnates someone.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:41 am |
  54. Yvonne

    As a retired, female Sergeant Major, I have witnessed unmarried female soldiers getting pregnant to avoid deployment since the first Gulf War. I fully support disciplinary action being taken against these women. I also believe the military should automatically discharge any unmarried soldiers who become pregnant while on active duty. Their amoral behavior is not in keeping with the high standards of military conduct and directly affects military readiness and morale.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:46 am |
  55. David

    Well I'm a 1SG in the Army and this is an order that is long over due! They say that sex in general is basically not allowed but let's be honest; if you take an 18 or whatever year old soldier and send them away to a combat zone for a YEAR, what do you think is going to happen? The same thing that happens every time. Hold them accountable!!!

    December 22, 2009 at 10:46 am |
  56. Glenn Opfer

    Finally a military leader that stands up and says the truth. Through these days of equal rights we continue to be to politically correct, instead of saying the real deal. I have seen in peace time overseas duty (Korea) where single females get pregnant and must be transferred back to the states before their tour is complete. This only thrusts more of the mission burden on soldiers who short handedly complete their tour. Era does not exist in the military when the physical fitness tests has the same standards for seventeen old females and forty year old males. Its become another Government welfare system. The General was correct to punish both male and female soldier. Think of the mission.

    Glenn Opfer
    1SG, retired

    December 22, 2009 at 10:46 am |
  57. Robert Cline Sr

    The General is on target with this policy. Females are soldiers and are always seen as a soldier first. They are obligated just like any male soldiers to be a team member to be reliable and depending on and I cannot begin to tell you how difficult it is to maintain Company Integrity and morale when soldiers know that the reason some female soldiers get pregnant is to avoid deployments.. This is a serious issue and once again I have to say that the General is on point 100%. This is not about gender, this is about being a soldier and fulfilling your obligation as a soldier.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:46 am |
  58. Jeffrey Ludwig

    So Maj. Gen. Cucolo has to initiate a policy to court martial females in northern Iraq to prevent a loss of personnel. What an embarrassment! It is a painful and shameful situation resultant from the ambivalence of the adult-aged males that allowed our ladies to participate in a combat situation.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:46 am |
  59. Cam

    I am pregnant and in the military and have received nothing but support. For the most part the military supports families. The problem is troops who get deployed then purposely get pregnant to get sent home, that is a direct effort to avoid duty and yes, is punishable. If these troops are not willing to deploy, they should not have joined the military.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  60. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    Sgt. Hahn I served on board the USS Texas CGN 39 and am well aware of the working military before rights activist and government officials changed a well fine tuned and organized machine and this was not a military issue.1979 t0 81 Iran conflict.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  61. C

    To those who are saying, "use protection," don't forget that there are a good number of women for whom birth control is a religious and philosophical problem. The military makes many concessions for religious principles. (Among others, I recall during my service that a religious medal was allowed in uniform, even though not a uniform item.) The use or decision to not use birth control should be no different. So what about the Catholic woman who goes home on leave? Should she be required to either violate her religious principles, or not have intercourse with her husband because she might get pregnant? Absurd. And since the "Rhythm Method," however carefully followed, is hardly foolproof, it's absurd to expect a woman can actually control whether or not she conceives a baby. That's in many cases, totally God's domain.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  62. Dee Ann

    Lots of reasons why this is a good rule. Number one is the unfairness to the others in the group. Next is what kind of care can be expected to be provided. What about if she is sick a lot and unable to fulfill her duties, placing more work on someone else.

    Like the comment that if the Army wanted them to have a baby, they would have issued them one!

    December 22, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  63. splashy

    If they would allow abortions and birth control to be paid for by the military, then this would make sense, because the women could prevent or stop the pregnancies.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  64. Troy Smallwood

    Used to be a people would get upset when a soldier shot himself in the foot to get out of deployment. If the military response to that would be a court martial, then they should do the same for pregnancy. After all, when you are in basic training they tell you that your body belongs to Uncle Sam now, and you can't do just anything with it that you want.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  65. Priscilla Ervin

    I am furious, livid and appalled by General Cucolo's order. He is a MORON and should have his command summarily taken away. HE should be punished. Does he think all pregnancies can be avoided by using birth control? It has been known to fail. How about abortion? Would he court-martial a woman just because she got pregnant if she had an abortion? Is he effectively ORDERING a woman to have an abortion? Is this China? Would an Army doctor perform such an abortion if she chose to have one? Would the court-martialed woman be jailed? Would the baby be in jail with her or snatched away? Or she receive a dishonorable discharge? This order is ABSURD and probably unconstitutional and General Cucolo should receive extremely harsh punishment. I have already written my two California WOMEN Senators, asking for their intervention.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  66. Erin

    It's unfair to place such a harsh punishment on soldiers. Especially those that are dual military. If the General wants to do that then he needs to think twice before sending dual military soldiers to Iraq together and then place them in the same living quarters. Birth control is NOT 100% effective and he can't stop married couples from doing something that is their biblical right.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  67. Boorai

    This is not much different than what many colleges expect from their female athletes. If a basketball player become pregnant, she will not have her scholarship any longer and will have to leave the team.

    Asking people to defer a biological event is a very odd thing, but to maintain the fighting force must be enacted. Though I am not sure if court martial is needed.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  68. Niel

    Last thing our soldiers need is to take care of a pregnant woman on the battlefield. I agree with general's decision and commend him from taking these kinds of measures for it.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  69. SMSgt Lucy USAF Ret

    As a 22 year female veteran of the AF of completely concur with the decision to court martial for pregnancy. As a first sergeant I saw countless cases of female members becoming pregnant to avoid deployment.

    These women expected equal treatment, pay etc. But they did not want to make the commitment needed to deserve that treatment.. It is not fair to the members of a unit to have to carry someone elses load and can definitly affect the mission capability.

    I sincerely hope our leaders will stand behind the General. He is absolutely correct.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  70. U.S.S. Texas C.G.N. 39

    Was you mess hall cook Sgt. Hahn you cant mix male and female without sex.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  71. 1SG McFarland USA Ret

    when a soldier is wounded in a combat zone they have to be evucated to the rear ad other soldires have to care for them. In this case tese medics could be used to care for the real wounded. and other combat soldieers have to take up the slack of the "wounded" pregenant soldier

    December 22, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  72. chris

    This is like being in a job. you are allowed to have relationship in jobs right? or you can be fired. this is the similar thing here.

    why would i want army men and women to make love or more when there in a war? seriously that not smart at all. I agree with this rule.

    December 22, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  73. Robert

    These people are in a war zone. They are aware or should be, that their actions,possibly place others in harms way. Let them suffer the consequences!

    December 22, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  74. ZENA

    WAY TO GO GENERAL.... About time someone is doing something about it. I'm a veteran of Iraq and sick of females getting pregnant and getting out the easy way. If you want to be a suzzy the home maker stay at home!!! Don't make me pick up your slack because you chose to get pregnant. Wonder why elite groups doesn't want any females in their unit. By the way I'm a female and joined the Army to play with the big guns not with a baby lol

    December 22, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  75. Dan Shafer

    Totally agree with the General.. This is a time of war and when you are in the military you do not have the same freedoms you have as a civilian. None of us like the war or what is required but it's the way it is. No one is asking troops to be celebate – just dont get pregnant....use your brains, use birth control which is issued freely in the military. The penalty is correct both parental units should deal with the same consequence.

    December 22, 2009 at 11:00 am |
  76. SFC Richard Perry

    Great decision! Soldiers need to concentrate on the mission ahead, not sexual activity and getting pregnant. It is true that some soldiers use a birth to get out of deployments(sad) and they should get court-martialed. I have 52 months of deployment time and don't feel any compassion for someone getting pregnant just to get out of 2 cents.

    December 22, 2009 at 11:00 am |
  77. Mike

    I am retired from the Army and this happens in peace time as well as in war. I feel sorry for the children who are brought into this world just to get out of a field problem. I agree they should be punished severely, as long as there is some evidence that it was done intentionally to get out of the field. During my career it didn't happen alot but I do know a few females that had it all planned to make sure they didn't have to go out in the field.

    December 22, 2009 at 11:00 am |
  78. Dave

    Any willful or negligent act that keeps a soldier from performing his/her duty is punishable by the UCMJ. Getting a sunburn at the beach which sends you to sick bay can be punishable. Why not a sexual act that has the same consequences?

    December 22, 2009 at 11:00 am |
  79. calvin

    I think the plan is a good idea. As a active duty member during the Iraq war females getting pregnant to get out of deploying to the the war was a common practice.

    December 22, 2009 at 11:01 am |
  80. Mike- Sacramento

    Its a no brainer we lose Soldiers due to actions on enemy contact.
    The remaining Soldiers have to work harder when their team mates are killed or wounded.
    They should not have to work harder due to a fellow Soldier going home and not having to complete their tour, due to someting that is self inflicted.
    I think the General is spot-on and is looking out for the welfare of all Soldiers and accomplishment of the mission. It is great the male counterpart is being held accountable too. We are in Iraq to win a war, and not to "make babies" and send Soldiers home early because they get pregnant. Some Soldiers no doubt have gotten knocked up to get over and go home early while their brothers/sisters pick up the work load in their absence.

    December 22, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  81. Beverly

    It takes two to make a baby. If the female is court-marshalled, then the male needs to be identified and court-marshalled as well. Otherwise the policy is unequal, and discriminatory.

    December 22, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  82. Divine

    The General has to be careful.
    The stress of facing being maimed or dead on a battlefield is enormous. Sex is a great stress reliever, better than drugs, very comforting in such situations. When pregnancy results in the heat of the moment, the ladies should be sent home to deal with it, not court marshalled.

    December 22, 2009 at 11:03 am |
  83. Johnny

    Hi Betty,

    While I do understand the need for rules and regulations, I believe the general's directive is a bit much.
    How does this general expect 22 thousand men and women to abstain from sexual activity?
    I am not aware of any other method that is 100 percent.
    Do you think that this general would refrain from sex for the entire year?

    December 22, 2009 at 11:03 am |
  84. Trevor Baggett

    I believe in laws governing military action during combat, however if a women enters combat and becomes injured due to chemical exposure or impact with explosive devices and so on which may result her ability to conceive children, what then? Many soldiers return from war injured and must change their lives and face very poor care from the government both mentally and of course physically.
    They are forced to live with the decisions of their President to fight and support combat without questions. Now we are going to court martial women for expressing freedoms with their bodies? Isn't one of the selling points used to justify war in the Middle East, excessive government control over and individuals right to life, liberty and the persuit of happiness. Yes I am sure I read that somewhere before...

    December 22, 2009 at 11:04 am |
  85. Philip

    Military personnel are under the UCMJ and as such are required to follow the Lawful orders of the commanders or superiors. Pregnant women do not belong it deployed situations, this is a serious danger to themselves and to all who serve with them. I have see during my deployments, a small minority, of women who got pregnant to get out of a deployment and have orders back CONUS. This may open issues of jealously, fraternization between troops and is a direct danger to the operations and effectiveness of the mission. KUDO's to the General and all the military management for FINALLY taking up this issue.

    December 22, 2009 at 11:06 am |
  86. michael armstrong sr.

    A misunderstanding rotate the female off and replace with a male until its an all male combat unit just like the bad ole days and yes I served in the Iran conflict so im well aware of the U.C.M.J.

    December 22, 2009 at 11:06 am |
  87. michell

    I'm active Army and I totally agree with the General, irresponsible sex and adultry run rampent while deployed and I think it is terrible I hear soldiers bragging about it constantly. I know some fellow soldiers that purposely got pregnant so they could go home.I think they should be held accountable for thier careless behavior.

    December 22, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  88. Chris

    This general should get over it and just command. The people in the navy have complained for decades about women who get pregnant to avoid deployments. This is why the navy limits the amount of women assigned to ships. Not that every woman in the services do this sort of thing but it does happen. Besides, if the general is going to courts martial and jail troops as he states, it will take two soldiers out of the field and not just the one who is pregnant! What is he thinking? Just as in past conflicts, banning a personal behavior never really works. Look at drug use during Viet Nam! By awarding jail time would be like a vacation for these troops- hot meals, get to sleep in a bed, get to shower on a regular basis, and most of all, they don't get shot at! This general is showing a lack of true leadership skills and should resign or retire because he makes a crappy general!

    December 22, 2009 at 11:15 am |
  89. marc

    I think its totally appropriate. Just this month my clerk was sent home because she got pregnant by a married man. now they are both facing court martial. under the previous policy, she will be sent home, slapped on the wrist and discharged. meanwhile the male soldier will have to face UCMJ charges for getting someone pregnant and adultry.
    getting pregnant in combat is the same as shooting yourself in the foot, either way you hurt the integrity of the unit by removing manpower and thereby forcing the rest of the force to work harder.

    December 22, 2009 at 11:27 am |
  90. michael armstrong sr.

    Jean well said with lots of common since but the female soldier does not have a choice when it comes to deployment and this is bad policy we are reaping what we sew.

    December 22, 2009 at 11:28 am |
  91. Terrance

    This indeed is an interesting approach to establishing some order and discipline in a military community at a time during military conflict (War). As an experience 30 year veteran, I can understand the commands approach. This is nothing new. I applaud the Generals approach and understand the frustration, in maintaining a fair and decent balance for our troops in combat. This is combat, not an orgy, for those to take an opportunity and have sexual encounters resulting in conception, they should be disciplined for indecent conduct during a time of war in a combat environment, to include if any, adultery ramifications. Such ;ow moral standards in an unsanitary environment is shameful.

    Although not relevant, this also goes along the lines of a previous general, whom stated that young members of the military should not become married until such time, they are more responsible during their first and second initial enlistment.

    My bottom line point, this adventure of the Military is an organization established to keep good order and discipline amongst its ranks, during such time in combat as well to support and defend our country and its interest.

    The military community should not be totally swayed or influenced by civilian opinions which causes conflicting thoughts of how things should be in the military, the military sure does not tell the civilian community how they should do things unless it is Marshal Law.

    Terrance Ret Military

    December 22, 2009 at 11:29 am |
  92. Chris

    No where in the oath I was sworn in by, did it say anything about I agree to remain celebant for years on end to perform military service. Just like this general doesn't see, that to implement his plan as stated, he will remove two soldiers for every one pregnancy from the battlefield! Women get pregnant and that is just a fact of life. If a married woman gets pregnant and finds out 3 months into a deployment and is married, I guess she should go to jail? The way they deploy people for a year at a time, bring them back for 90 days then redeploy them for another year and you expect them not to get pregngant? Really? Who is the one that isn't dealing with reality here? When is the gov going to figure out things like this make people leave the services?

    December 22, 2009 at 11:30 am |
  93. SoldierDownRange

    As a Soldier currently under this policy I can understand way this order has to be followed. I do not however agree with it. This is my third tour to Iraq and I have seen a few female Soldiers sent home due to a pregnancy. The combat effectiveness of a unit is not altered by the loss of one or two Soldiers, maybe ten or more but I have never heard of that happening within one unit.
    I think that this will become a major issue when a young female Soldier finds out that she is pregnant and decides not to inform her chain of command in fear of UCMJ action. What happens when this young female Soldier has a miscarriage due to fear of prosecution, or poor medical coverage? If she doesn't tell her chain of command and doesn't see the doctor this could happen. What happens when a husband and wife currently deployed get pregnant? How does the chain of command prove they weren’t using protection?
    In my three deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom we were ordered not to have sexual relations with the host country nationals, and/or our civilian contractor counterparts. I know it is a grey area but no order was ever given about not having sex with fellow Soldiers, as long as the Officer and Enlisted fraternization regulation was not being broken no one cared.
    What do you think happens when you send a bunch of young single or married Soldiers to a combat zone for twelve to fifteen months? Do you really think they aren’t having sexual relations? I can tell you that they are and until now, no one cared. It is sad that here we are at the “end” of this operation and now the silly rules come out. But like I said being one of the Soldiers currently under this policy, I will follow my orders.

    December 22, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  94. David

    I totally understand why the general feels that this order is warranted however I think that he just opened up a brand new can of worms! What to will basically means is that a married female soldiers has about one year to get pregnant when she comes back from a deployment. During that time, her unit is gearing back up for another deployment, oh by the way she can't participate in during most of the training b/c she is pregnant and someone has to take her place. Then when she has the child it's time to deploy again. So basically what general is saying to women is, if you get pregnant you're a liability either way. Great message to send out general, just when I thought we were in the 21 century, crap like this happens!

    December 22, 2009 at 12:09 pm |
  95. Maya

    I think the decision is totally appropriate. One has to take responsibility for his/her actions and such a behavior need to be distinguished from those who fairly serve their 12 months in combat locations. I worked as a civilian linguist in a deployed air base that supported OEF in Afghanistan for 5 years and was able to watch those who would get pregnant just having a good time and trying to get home for Christmas. They had constantly made mistakes, slept on the job and stayed unfocused thus putting an extra burden on their team mates and supervisors. Those deployed locations have exactly as many position slots as needed and loosing a body means the job responsibilities will be shared among others who are already on the job 24/7.

    December 22, 2009 at 12:14 pm |
  96. Dodie

    Pregnancy and active military life especially during a time of war is a contradiction in terms. The Israel Army gives women who become pregnant in the army the NIS 800, a release notice, with no further contact, no benefits, nothing!

    I understand Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo’s position. You are counting on ALL your staff for support. Because women carry the child for 9 months, it would be wise to implement a policy regarding pregnancy and active duty. When someone joins the military, they agree and sign a statement pertaining to the military as being the #1 priority above their personal life.

    Because military life is so demanding on families, if both parents are active and deployed, this sets up a causal effect for attachment disorders in the children. I have personally worked with children of mililtary parents. Their trauma and emotional issues are grave due to movement from one base to another and deployed (absent) parents. If a woman wants to have children, it might be wise for her to decide on another career.

    December 22, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  97. Shannon

    As a soldier currently returning from a combat zone, I do agree with this policy but I don't think that it should only be applied to the women simply because it takes two to make a baby and we all should face our consequences. There is a grey area when it comes to having sexual relations in a combat zone but when you're there for 12-15 months, it's bound to happen.

    December 22, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  98. Holly

    As a civlian I can see how people would be outraged by this, but as a army brat with both parents and a husband that have all sevred and I totally get where the general is comming from. I dont think that civlians get it that when u sign the UCMJ u are signing a agreement that states that whatever the military tells u to do u are going to do it. This is why joining the military is a decision not to be taken lightley. I don't think it unreasonable to ask female soliders not to get pregant until thier jobs are completed. My mom served in the 101 and 82 airborne at a time when there where were only a handful of women selected for this service and shw ould talk about the rampade sex that would go on and how it affected the duties of the unit. Nobody wants to spend the money to train female personal just for them to urn around and get pregant and be able to do thier jobs. Im all for womens rights but when u join the military u pretty much have no rights. I dont undertsand what the big deal is if me as a civlian could go 7 yrs without getting pregant in a enviroment that has much more temptation why cant these ladies prevent it for one yr. If u dont like the pill then get the depo shot which last 3 mons at a time then there will be not accidents. I feel that anyone that belly aches about this disgracies the proud service that my mother provided her country loud and proud without getting pregant. All service members have a job to do and with great priviage come great responsiblities and I dont think its unreasonable for the general to ask Very one to keep it in thier pants and do thier job.

    December 22, 2009 at 12:30 pm |
  99. James Mitchem

    I don't see why this is in any way controversial, if anything this decision was overdue. We have an all volunteer military, if a person chooses to serve they must accept the responsibilities to their unit and to their country.

    If people cannot abide by the rules of the road and simply cannot keep their pants zipped or use birth control while deployed the solution is simple, don't sign up! Service in our military is a choice, if a person cannot accept the rules they should return to the civilian sector. This is a war, people need to start treating it like one.

    The General came to a fair and balanced decision that punishes both men and women for their misconduct. If it is not legal, it should be.

    December 22, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  100. Samuel Ballantyne

    I completely agree with the major general and everyone in the military should as well and the ones that dont probably should just get out. I was recently deployed to Iraq and before heading down range we were all told that we are not to have sex. A pregnant female is considered non deployeable. So my question for them that do get pregnant is knowing that you would be nondeployeable why would you go and get pregnant out there? Every soldier no matter what is capable of knowing what is right or wrong. How about we get back to the old amry we use to be start doing the right thing once again. Their are to many soldiers now and days that dont do this im just wondering when the army will start putting its foot down again. I completely agree with the Major General whom made this call. Their are good soldiers out here still Sir

    December 22, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  101. Marie Fuller

    Whatever the reason a soldier becomes pregnant perhaps it should be ruled that she returns to a safe base for the year, have her baby and must return to active duty when the baby is three months old. That way we do not lose the training she had, if her purpose was less than noble, she doesn't avoid anything. Surely she can be uselful at a safe even though pregnant. At least there is not "get out of jail free" card here.

    December 22, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  102. David

    Dawn all the prospective soldiers come from the public.

    I don't know what the UCMJ says. It would be interesting to know. But soldiers on leave or furlough or btwn deployments are not barred from having sex with their partners, or spouses, I would imagine. Also being able to have intimate relations with your wife or husband probably has a positive impact on morale. Intimacy is something everyone needs not just sex of course.

    December 22, 2009 at 8:03 pm |
  103. Angie D

    I am a woman with a husband, brother in-law and other family members in the military. I am with the general. If a women becomes pregnant while on active duty she is a liability to the other active members of the military. She is unable to do her job 100% as she is now in the care of an unborn child. The military can not let her continue in an active manner as they would be held liable if something were to happen to fetus. There should be no debate about this issue. The general is not talking about jail time or court marshall. He is talking about a demotion, being sent home. It is against the military code to fraternize amongst solders. The solders are there to do a job, not have relations.

    December 23, 2009 at 11:05 am |