INFIDELITY IN THE MILITARY 12
Infidelityin the Military
Infidelityin the Military
Themilitary or armed forces come as some of the most fundamental aspectsof any society. This is particularly considering the fact that theyare tasked with the defense of the countries against externalaggression. More often than not, military officers create this façadethat makes them look infallible and capable of withstanding any formof temptation and conditions irrespective of the environment. Indeed,as members of the disciplined forces, it is expected that they wouldadhere to personal codes of ethics that are in line with the acceptedand expected societal values in both the long-term and theshort-term. More often than not, however, the ability of theindividuals to adhere to the rules and guidelines pertaining tomilitary service is not similar or tantamount to the capacity toadhere to the acceptable code of ethics in the society. Thisunderlines the fact that even decorated individuals in the militaryand, especially the army, have the likelihood of being not sooutstanding as far as their personal lives are concerned. Perhaps oneof the major concerns regarding the military revolves around thestability of military marriages or rather the rates of infidelity inthe varied branches of military.
Asmuch as military marriages have been shown to be more or less thesame as those of the civilians, it is well acknowledged that thereare varied factors that make them highly vulnerable to infidelity.Obtaining statistic pertaining to the rates of infidelity in themilitary can be quite a daunting task. Nevertheless, researchdemonstrates that the four branches of the military including themarines, air force, army and navy have had an increase in the ratesof divorce. Indeed, statistics demonstrate that the divorce ratesdoubled up from 2001 to 2004 from 568 to around 10477 in the case ofenlisted personnel and active-duty army officers (Allen et al, 2012).In addition, a 2011 study has demonstrated that men and women whohave at one time served in the military have a higher risk of gettinginto marital infidelity and divorce compared to the general publicpopulation. The research demonstrated that 32% of veterans who evergot married engaged in extra-marital affairs, which is almost twicethe 16.8% of the ever-married non-veterans. Further, 38.5% of themarried veterans divorced, compared to 28.9% of the nonveterans thatare married. The statistics should not be surprising given that alarge proportion of individuals that got divorced blamed it onextra-marital affairs in both the case of non-veterans and veterans(Allen et al, 2012). Indeed, individuals who reported having cheatedon their spouses stood over 2.3 times more likely to have divorcedcompared to those that were unfaithful. The study offered immenseevidence to the effect that the veteran status was immenselyconnected to or related to an increased likelihood for divorce andextra-marital sex particularly among men, while suggesting that theodds pertaining to divorce and extra-marital sex could be quiteelevated even among the female veterans. Of course, it is necessarythat a study is carried to determine whether there are any variationsbetween the male and female military officers.
Quitea number of factors have been identified as having contributoryeffects on the high rates of marital infidelity. However, perhaps oneof the major causes of infidelity in the military is the fact thatthey spend quite long periods of time away from their homes andspouses. Indeed, researchers have demonstrated that military officersmostly engage in extra-marital affairs as a result of being away ordeployed on military-related training for long periods of time.Officers often have to be separated from their families as a resultof work, far-away training, temporary duty stations and deployments.In some cases, some officers can be away from their families for asmuch as two years in a row. As much as distance makes the heart growfonder, there is also the likelihood that the individuals would beconsiderably less capable of handling the loneliness. It can bepretty difficult to think about one’s family when an individual hasbullets flying over his or her head, with numerous tactical andstrategic decisions to be made at any given time. the fear andapprehension that comes with being in the military or frontline ofthe battle can get the individual seeking comfort in the nearestplaces. More often than not, the solders are seeking an escape fromthe shackles of life in the base and the horrors of the way, withadultery coming as the most appropriate and easiest route for thesame. It should also be noted that for most soldiers, the militaryenvironment comes with immense freedom. Indeed, the environment isunrestrained, in which case the young personnel who acknowledge thatdeath is always a possibility at any given time will be likely tojump on any opportunity to cheat.
Onthe same note, a large proportion of soldiers have never experiencedother cultures apart from those pertaining to their home country.Researchers have noted that some soldiers experience culture shocksin instances where they are deployed from the comfort of theirfriends, family, spouse and community (Allen et al, 2012). This meansthat they could lose sight of their lives at home as they makeefforts to adjust to the new lives in the temporary stations. Thiscan be worsened by the immense pressure that comes with thinkingabout what their families at home could be doing at that particulartime and their inability to cope with the absence of their militaryspouses even on a temporary basis. Deployment beyond their owncountries and cultures gives the soldiers exciting adventureopportunities. In a life characterized by adrenalin and battle, itcan be quite exhilarating and intense to have an affair.
Inaddition, it has been noted that a large number of divorce andadultery cases are attributed to the incompatibility of the militaryofficers with the spouses beyond the battle grounds. It is a wellacknowledged fact that a large number of military officers aremarried to civilians, which should not be surprised given that themilitary makes up only 1% of the population in the United States(Allen et al, 2012). A large number of army officers have stated orreported that their families are incapable of comprehending theelements of the battlefront that military officers comprehend or evenunderstand their woes, leave alone a conversation. More often thannot, they feel comfortable having conversation with their militarycolleagues, in which case a large proportion of infidelity casesprimarily involve fellow soldiers. Scholars acknowledge that both thedeployed officers and their spouses crave for attention andcompanionship, with someone who can comprehend the things that theyare experiencing at any given time, in which case it is extremelyeasy for infidelity to grow from that small seed (Allen et al, 2012).
Questionsmay be asked regarding the consequences of infidelity in the militaryor rather the form of punishment that would be meted againstindividuals that are suspected or proved to have engaged inextramarital affairs. Researchers have acknowledged that the militarypenalty is quite harsh as far as the discovery of an affair isconcerned. It could involve up to one whole year of confinement,coupled with a dishonorable discharge, an element that would alsoinvolve forfeiture of every form of retirement pay (Baldor, 2013). Ofparticular note is the fact that the odds of a soldier facing anypunishment at all are pretty slim, particularly in instances whereadultery or infidelity is all that they have been charged with.Indeed, it is almost unheard of for court martial to be held onadultery charges alone, rather the charge is usually added on top ofa list of other crimes such as lying to one’s superiors, sexualmisconduct or failure to adhere to orders among others (Baldor,2013).
However,it should be noted that adultery has yet to be listed as a crime oroffense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), a federallaw that was established by the Congress so as to govern the courtmartials and legal discipline pertaining to individuals in the armedforces. Nevertheless, Article 134 (General Article) makes adultery orinfidelity in the military prosecutable as it prohibits conduct whosenature can bring discredit on the armed forces, or even a form ofconduct that is prejudicial to the discipline and good order (Baldor,2013). The code enables the President to administer it throughwriting an Executive Order called the Manual for Court Martial (MCM),which would establish the elements of proof or rather provide thebasis or proof that the government must offer so as to prosecute anoffense, the explanation pertaining to the offenses, as well as themaximum permissible punishments pertaining to every offense (Snyderet al, 2011). As much as the MCM is by all means an executive orderthat is carried out by the president, a large proportion of thecontents are in reality the result of federal and military appealscourt decisions.
However,there are varied reasons that present an obstacle to the proof of theoffense of infidelity in the military. Indeed, the proof of adulteryunder the military guidelines can be quite an insurmountableobstacle. Article 134 requires that the prosecution proves that theaccused individual did not only undertake or commit the indiscretionbut also that his conduct was prejudicial to the discipline and goodorder of the armed forces and that it was of a form that has thecapacity to bring discredit on the disciplined forces (Baldor, 2013).This means that the affair must have, in one way or another,interfered with the ability of the officer to carry his or her job,possibly through damaging the faith of the public in the armedforces. The three elements of proof for adultery offense include,proof that the accused individual wrongly engaged in sexualintercourse with a particular person, that during the time, theaccused person or even the other individual was married to anotherperson, and, lastly, that under the prevailing circumstances, theaccused person’s conduct was prejudicial to the discipline and goodorder of the armed forces or brought discredit to the armed forces(Snyder et al, 2011). The first element can be easy to prove for thegovernment since there exists sufficient evidence regarding themarital status of the person. Indeed, it should be noted that in thearmed forces, a single person can (surprisingly) be charged withadultery. In the case of the first element, proving that sexualintercourse took place can be pretty difficult as court martialrequires that the offense be proved to have taken place beyondreasonable doubt. Such proof would include confession from one of theparties, photographs, eye-witness accounts and other forms of legallyadmissible proof. This can be quite difficult to achieve in the caseof the military since the simple fact that an individual slept in thesame house or even same bed with another does not constitutesufficient proof of infidelity or sexual intercourse (Gordon et al,2004). Even more difficult to prove is the third element since theprosecutor must demonstrate that the conduct of the accused had adirect negative effect on the military. Of particular note is thefact that this could normally include instances of fraternization orrelationships with other military members or even military spouses.In 1998, the administration came up with changes to the Manual forCourts-Martial that stated that cases of adultery would be handed atthe lowest appropriate level, while also coming up with specificguidelines that commanders could use so as to determine whether theconduct of the accused was “prejudicialto good order and discipline,"or "ofa nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces"(Snyder et al, 2011). However, the proposal was not adopted as aresult of deficiency of cooperation from the Congress. Nevertheless,President Bush in a silent move in 2002 adopted numerousmodifications as proposed in 1998. Apart from the Elements of Proof,the explanation portion under the offense necessitates thatcommanders consider varied factors in the determination of whether anoffense makes up a crime (Baldor, 2013). In the determination ofwhether the infidelity or adultery has negative impacts on themilitary and whether it should be seen as a criminal offense, it isimperative that factors such as the marital status, position, gradeand rank of the accused in the military, the co-actor’s militaryposition, rank or grade and marital status or relationship with thearmed forces, as well as the military status of the spouses of boththe co-actor and the accused or rather their relationship with thearmed forces (Snyder et al, 2011). It goes without saying that ininstances where a high-ranking military officer has an affair, therewould likely be a direct negative effect on the armed forcesparticularly with regard to the perception of the public towards themilitary compared to an instance where a junior officer is caughtwith the same offense (Gordon et al, 2004). Another condition addedto the same was the impact of the infidelity on the capacity of theaccused and co-actor, as well as either of their spouses to undertakeduties in support of the military (Snyder et al, 2011). Otherconditions include proof that there was misuse of governmentresources and time in the facilitation of the commission of thisconduct, whether the conduct continued in spite of orders to desistand counseling, or even the fragrancy of the conduct like whethersome notoriety ensured and whether the adulterous act was accompaniedby any violations of UCMJ, as well as the negative effects that theconduct has on the organizations and units of the accused, co-actorand their spouses including detrimental effects on organizationalmorale, efficiency and teamwork (Baldor, 2013).
Theseconditions essentially underline the fact that a large number ofincidents of infidelity would be unlikely to be seen as punishablecrimes in the military unless it is well determined that there existssome negative effect on the functioning of the military. Similarly,there are numerous occasions where the cases of infidelity are oftenresolved within the unit (Snyder et al, 2011). This explains whyinfidelity is unlikely to be charged as a stand-alone criminaloffense in accordance with Article 15 or Court Martial actions ratherit can be added to other charges in instances where an individual isundergoing prosecution for other criminal offenses. Such would be thecase where a military officer is being prosecuted for themisappropriation of funds and resources or failure to report to aparticular work station as a result of dedicating the funds or thetime to an affair with another person (Snyder et al, 2011). A largenumber of individuals in the military feel that just as infidelity oradultery does not constitute a criminal offense in the case ofcivilians so is the case in the military.
Ofcourse, this does not imply that the members of the army and otherbranches of the military are at liberty to engage in infidelity orextra-marital affairs. Indeed, commanders often have immensediscretion with regard to the administrative procedures, while theadministrative actions are immensely governed by the strict legalrequirements pertaining to UCMJ. Nevertheless, in instances where thematter has been resolved using Article 15 procedures or even theadministrative sanctions, the actions are immensely protected fromother people under Privacy Act of 1974. This means that the publicwould only know about it in instances where the accused is punishedby Courts-Martial (Snyder et al, 2011). Commanding officers are,according to the Privacy Act, prohibited from disclosing anyadministrative action or Article 15, without military member’sexpress written consent. In this case, it becomes quite possible thatthe individual would undergo punishment for infidelity and the publicnever get knowledge of the same (Baucom et al, 2009). Of course, thismeans that the easiest system of recourse would be civilian courts,which just require proof that the incident took place even when theproof is no beyond reasonable doubt.
Inconclusion, infidelity in the military has been a major cause ofconcern in the recent times. This is particularly given the numeroushigh-ranking individuals who have been forced to resign in the recenttimes as a result of scandals involving infidelity and extra-maritalaffairs either with colleagues or even the civilians. Numerous causesof infidelity in the military have been identified, with the factthat the officers are often deployed for long periods of time faraway from their homes and spouses being the major factor, alongsideother things such as newfound freedom and the need for companionship.While this vice is a major cause of divorce among the militaryofficers, it should be noted that the prosecution of the same can bequite a herculean task particularly in the military. In this case,prosecution using the civilian means is the most appropriate andeasiest routes for the aggrieved parties.
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Baucom,D., Snyder, D. K., & Gordon, K. (2009). HelpingCouples Get Past the Affair.New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Baldor,L C (2013). SexIs A Major Reason Military Commanders Are Fired,New York: ASSOC. PRESS
Gordon,K.C., Baucom, D.H., & Snyder, D.K. (2004). Anintegrative intervention for promoting recovery from extramaritalaffairs. Journalof Marital and Family Therapy, 30(2),213-231.
Snyder,D.K., Gasbarrini, M.F., Doss, B.D., & Scheider, D.M. (2011).Intervening with military couples struggling with issues of sexualinfidelity. Journalof Contemporary Psychotherapy, 41,201-208.