Make War, Not Love (The Redux)

Army Maj. Gen Anthony Cucolo III, who leads the U.S. forces in Iraq’s northern sector, wants his soldiers battle ready. Any personal decision that adversely impacts readiness, he’s confronting head-on.

Or he was. Well, he may still, but Cucolo’s declared a war on one self-inflicted medical condition is over. Any punitive measures against those who become pregnant and those that impregnate them, well, nevermind.

Gen. Ray Odierno, commander, Multi-national Forces, Iraq, and Cucolo’s boss laid out Odierno’s news policy. There is no pregnancy provision. Cucolo’s two-month old order included disciplinary action ranging from letters to courts martial. Of the seven or so who fell under his pregnancy policy, four females and three males were issued letters. Starting Jan. 1 it appears it will be business as usual—pregnancy can be that golden ticket home.

Cucolo’s efforts may have become a distraction. A letter from a group of senators including California’s Barbara “Babs” Boxer addressing Cucolo’s policy read, “… we believe the threat of criminal sanctions in the case of pregnancy goes far beyond what is needed to maintain good order and discipline.” Others detractors were concerned the policy could force women to hide their pregnancies or seek some backroom abortion.

So they caved.

But Cucolo’s efforts provide a glimpse into an inconvenient truth few will admit: Some women use pregnancy to get out of deployment and other duty. Some later terminate the pregnancy (but you didn’t hear it from us). If a woman becomes pregnant in Iraq or Afghanistan, she will be sent home. In speaking with mid-level enlisted females, generally, servicemembers have a pretty low opinion of these scammers, which can hurt unit cohesion and degrade the readiness Cucolo was seeking to protect.

Not only did Cucolo have the legal green light, he had the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, which saw the now-defunct policy as remarkably fair, albeit tough to enforce equitably.

This gem of an issue is far from resolved.

What say ye of Cucolo’s (overturned) policy and the move back to pregnancy as usual?

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