In an article entitled “New peril in war zones: Sex abuse by fellow GIs”, this gem from the New York Times:

BAGHDAD – Capt. Margaret H. White began a relationship with a warrant officer while both were training to be deployed to Iraq. By the time they arrived this year at Camp Taji, north of here, she felt what she called “creepy vibes” and tried to break it off.In the claustrophobic confines of a combat post, it was not easy to do. He left notes on the door to her quarters, alternately pleading and menacing. He forced her to have sex, she said. He asked her to marry him, though he was already married. He waited for her outside the women’s latrines or her quarters, once for three hours.

“It got to the point that I felt safer outside the wire,” Captain White said, referring to operations that take soldiers off their heavily fortified bases, “than I did taking a shower.”

So the female Captain is portrayed as a victim. However, did not the Captain “began a relationship with a warrant officer”? One who was “already married”? Are these not serious breaches of discipline? Indeed, violations of the UCMJ punishable in Courts Martial?

Make no mistake as to my point here. If the WO in question committed sexual assault, he should be locked up and the key thrown away. No excuse for it, ever. But the point has been made here once before that the way to deal with the problem is to ENFORCE DISCIPLINE, and not to waste valuable training time with nonsensical feel-good stand-down sessions and mandatory training requirements that make good copy but accomplish nothing. Hammer those guilty of wrongdoing. Yes, that includes both those who commit such acts as sexual assault, and those whose breaches of conduct and orders create an even more fertile (no pun intended) environment for such occurrences than exists already. Admiral Harvey has the right idea.

So, what jumps out at you from the good Captain’s story above? She began a relationship. With a married man. She is the senior soldier in said relationship. From the temper of the story, the relationship was professionally inappropriate. But wait, there’s more:

She had dated the warrant officer when they arrived in Fort Dix, N.J., for predeployment training with the 56th Stryker Combat Team. The newly revised article of the Uniform Code of Military Justice says that “a current or previous dating relationship by itself” does not constitute consent.Once at Camp Taji, a sprawling base just north of Baghdad, she grew troubled by his behavior…

She admits she continued the relationship once in theater. So, let’s count up the score. She should have been charged each time under Article 92 for violating the infamous General Order #1. She violated Article 133, having a sexual relationship with a married man, and could be charged numerous times under 134. She should have been at a Special Court Martial.

But apparently she wasn’t.

After their deployment ended in September, the officer pleaded guilty and resigned from the Army in lieu of prosecution, Colonel Smith said. Captain White said that she was satisfied with the legal outcome of her case…

And in the course of this investigation, was Captain White not found to have committed any wrongdoing?

If she was, why wasn’t she dismissed from the service? And if she was found not to have, why not? She clearly admitted as much. Have we gotten to the point of being so politically correct, or fearful of those who are, that we no longer enforce ANY rules or regulations that uphold good order and discipline? Do we expect this situation to do anything but get worse when all senior leadership is willing to do is ignore those factors that exacerbate an already serious problem?

Why does the flavor of this instance taste much like that of Major Hasan? Where’s the leadership? When it comes to enforcing discipline against those who might lodge an EO complaint, it seems we have a new motto: “Even when we know, we’ll pretend we don’t.

Stand by for the consequences.

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Army, Policy

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  • URR–

    Dude, on a day the Marine Corps Times website runs an article that leads:

    “With reported sex assaults in the Marine Corps up 40 percent since 2007, top service officials have ordered a crackdown to stop all forms of crude and inappropriate behavior, and Marines of every rank will be enlisted to help.”

    You don’t talk about that story. Why not?

    Instead you go to a NY Times story (no link, cute!) that deals with, of all things, a situation involving the U.S. Army. I mean, the Army on a naval blog–and you a former Marine, no less!

    Speak to what strengths you have, and let’s hear your thoughts on the efforts to reduce the increase in reported USMC assaults on women. Good? Bad? Silly? Misfocused? Distraction?

    (And…well, you know, we’ve simply just gotta keep the Army outa this site! Last I checked we did have some standards around here, right? We’re a classy joint, yes?)

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Spring, the particular post was a comment on the approach to the problem service-wide. USMC included. I did read the MCT article, which mentioned quite a bit about leadership. And you will note that much will be expected of NCOs and SNCOs, as well. I expect no less, and have all the faith in the world that SgtMaj Kent will demand it.

    So, Springboard, you can keep the accusatory tone that has endeared you to so many. The reason this story is highlighted is not because it is talking about the Army, but because the individual involved admittedly engaged in conduct that was prejudicial to good order and discipline. She should have been called on it immediately. The fact that she wasn’t, either at the time or subsequently, speaks volumes.

    Here is your link:

  • UltimaRatioReg

    *Burma Shave*

    Spring, it is fair to say that while the USMC is absolutely blessed to have the senior leadership in our Commandant and SgtMaj, the USMC has certainly not always been immune to the knee-jerk overreactions that we see in the other services.

    And, if as in the story presented in the NYT, leadership in a Marine unit ignores enforcement of good order and discipline, I would expect the results to be precisely the same as any place else.

  • SB,

    Try to stick to the topic at hand:

    URR’s post illustrates something on active duty seen too often. Leadership looks the other way with sex in the ranks, and as a result 2nd and 3rd order effects take place with an outcome that leaves everyone’s honor soiled.

    This is just one example of many …. and illustrates how a Uniform Code of Military Justice based on Common Law soon seems to be applied in a non-uniform manner – and fairness becomes uncommon.

    That is a loss for all.

  • The woman is always the victim.

    The man is always the perp.

    I’m surprised you didn’t know that…..*walks away whistling innocently*

  • Hey, I feel like ya’ll are dismissing the whole problem of male/female sexual assault here. Yah, there’s always gonna be the he-said-she-said problem. Yah, there’s always gonna be cases where the complainer gets coddled. Inevitable.

    But does that eliminate the fact that there’s a problem?

    Look at that list of cases at the end of the Marine Corps Times article and then try and tell me there ain’t some sexual assault problems here–a recuriter with a 15 year old? Marines with a 12 year old–where other Marines, over a period of months, sat on their thumbs and didn’t speak up? Yech.

    There’s a fire here, folks. A cultural problem

    To change things we’re gonna need to socialize some of these folks. If it takes discipline to encourage Marines to act with honor around the opposite sex–and urge ’em to stop those who ain’t–then fine, do it. But it also may take some training to encourage new recruits and officers to try and live up to the highest expections of their service in this increasingly co-ed environment. I know the stuff used to make a cultural shift is often warmed shinola, but discipline alone isn’t gonna do it by itself.

    Why? Because you’ll get a lot of folks who’ll just think, “well, that guy got a bum rap” and not really bother to wonder why the man (or woman) being punished is actually getting the book thown at him. Or vice versa.

    URR, in his rush to make a case, steamrolls over a few facts: First, she’s separated from the Army now. We don’t know under what circumstances she retired. She get punished? We dunno. Second, she didn’t bring charges against the guy. The investigators came a-askin ’cause the dude had a lot of other issues goin’ on.

    URR leaves out the charges the guy PLED GUILTY to–and ultimately avoided prosecution for…It’s quite a laundry list: “He was ultimately charged with 19 offenses, said Lt. Col. Philip J. Smith, a spokesman for the division that oversaw operations in central Iraq. The charges included seven counts of fraternization and two of adultery, interfering with an investigation and, in Captain White’s case, stalking.” Guy had a lot goin’ on!

    Where’s all the fancy discipline URR wants sooooo much? Sounds like that clown got off pretty darn easy.

    But the Woman? URR wants to know why she didn’t get a Special Courts Martial, the book thrown at her, and, heck, why not burn her as a witch, too, while we’re at it.

    Burma shave that.

  • DirtyBlueshirt

    What Defense Springboard and many others forget is that the military is a microcosm of society. There are all kinds of people, heroes and scoundrels. Since sexual assault exists in the population at large it will exists in the military, and no amount of discipline or training is going to make it go away. The correct response is exactly the same as in the civilian world, punish the perpetrators and provide counseling for the victims. Anything else indicates a belief in the perfectibility of humanity, which is a pipe-dream indicative of poor critical thinking skills.

    And how, exactly, does a guilty plea translate into “avoiding prosecution?” He was prosecuted and plead guilty to avoid the time and expense of a trial, same as happens every day in the criminal justice system. That’s probably why is wasn’t mentioned in the original story, there’s no “there” there. This Captain, on the other hand, violated several articles of the UCMJ and, it appears, got off with a few codes on her DD214. She received preferential treatment and I think it’s fair to ask why. Was it because she’s a woman, she’s a commissioned officer, or because she was getting out anyway and it wasn’t worth the effort?

  • DS – There are plenty of angles to come at this story from. If you don’t care for this one, why not put up your own post?

  • Why don’t I put up my own post? Becuase I hope that maybe we might learn from engaging in debate…That’s why we’re, uh, here, at USNI, right? Part of that good old USNI mission.

    Blueshirt, I believe that the military has (or should try to instil) some higher standards and expectations of themselves than the population at large. Maybe that’s just me, but…

    Regarding who got punished…that was an odd bit of writing in the article…how exactly does one plead guilty to avoid prosecution…he’s already being prosecuted, right??? Also note the quote: “Captain White said that she was satisfied with the legal outcome of her case…” That could imply she was prosecuted as well…the way it’s written, one doesn’t know! (Sounds like they both got off with some codes on their DD214…if so, I think the guy got off easy) Awfully poor writing/editing on the part of the newspaper and the writer.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    You know good and well I am not dismissing the problem I address, which is sexual assault in theater. On the contrary, many of the actions to prevent such a problem need to take place well before an Art 32 hearing. Will that prevent everything? Nope. But a commander who looks the other way when one of his officers (the Captain) engages in such activity in violation of the UCMJ is setting the tone for a *wink wink* situation that gives a green light to everyone else.

    As far as “fancy discipline” goes, to use your dismissive term, had the WO actually done what the Captain claims in the story, (forced sex) he would have committed rape. And I don’t believe someone can resign in lieu of punishment for a capital crime. So there is more to the circumstance than NYT might let on. Had I been standing at the old man’s desk, however, I would NOT have advocated for resignation in lieu of punishment for the guy. Stalking? As a Warranted Officer? Jail time, baby.

    So, SB, what is it about enforcing good order and discipline that you don’t get? The Captain was aware of the rules. She broke them. Not once but several times. She was also the senior service member in the inappropriate relationship.

    The enlisted ranks surely knew about the situation. Are they then expected to toe the line when they know a Captain and WO are not? Did the CO not step in because he was also breaking the rules? Or because he was afraid of what the female Captain might do or say? Such issues can tear a unit apart. Just what those soldiers need in a combat zone.

    No, the Captain did not charge the WO. But I am assuming that you know a JAGMAN IO does not have the prerogative to overlook any violations of the UCMJ that are uncovered. That is the CO/CA’s call.

    I will say it again: Much as people might not like it, Admiral Harvey’s approach to the solution is the right one. If the CO can’t enforce good order and discipline, relieve him/her and find someone who does.

    SB, before you engage in dissecting the culture of the USMC or any other service, you might choose to obtain a better understanding of it. There is a pull-up bar with your name on it in South Carolina.

  • “Why don’t I put up my own post? Becuase I hope that maybe we might learn from engaging in debate…That’s why we’re, uh, here, at USNI, right? Part of that good old USNI mission.”

    LOL! So every post should suit every purpose? I think , uh, here, at USNI there are multiple bloggers for a reason.

  • Riverrunner

    Unfortunately, this (not holding people accountable) continues to be a problem. Every case of fraternization or sexual harassment that I’m personally aware of has been part of an ongoing saga. The perpetrator has a history of fraternization or sexual harassment that goes back years. However, no one has held the perpetrator accountable for his or her actions because they didn’t want to hurt his or her career.

    Let’s keep it in the Wardroom. Let’s keep in the Mess. Nope, wouldn’t be prudent. I’m not going to compromise my core values, my conscience because you compromised yours. The vast majority of leaders do the right thing everyday. However, it only takes a few to look the other way to create a huge problem for all of us down the road; until everyone gets the message and INTERNALIZES it we will continue to have challenges like this.

  • Chaps

    We should realize that there is no regulation in any of the armed services from which females are not exempt.

  • G-man

    Can someone please define the “Uniform” in UCMJ? Cuz here all these 22 years as an officer I naively thought that it meant these articles were applied uniformly across the entire service spectrum and not meaning discrimantian as to the “uniforms” – like mine are khaki and yours are army fatigues. Dang, who knew?

  • Here’s the view from a former 1st Class Petty Officer.

    Here’s how it is supposed to work:

    The skipper lines everybody in the command up at quarters. He then directs the JAG officer to read the appropriate articles from the UCMJ regarding Adultery, Conduct Unbecoming, Fraternization, etc.

    Afterward, he simply says: “You expect to be treated as adults. Act like adults. Dismissed”

    After Quarters, from that point onward, anyone who violates the UCMJ gets hammered. No exceptions. No quarter asked, none given.

    You do that, and these problems go away. Quit trying to parse the issues. It sounds like the press releases from the Clinton era. Enforce the UCMJ. Man UP. Problem solved.


  • CW4, USA

    As an ex USN enlisted, current US Army Chief Warrant Officer, I know that I would neither accept nor tolerate such behavior from a fellow Warrant Officer, and I would have no respect for any commissioned Officer so involved.

    Having been an XO of a small mixed unit, I have fired people and referred them to JAG for mixing it up in contravention to the UCMJ. Some of my people think I am a horses ass for enforcing rules, but rules are rules, and I bear witness that you can work people or (your choice of active activity here), but you cannot do both.

    I have had friends who had enlisted-officer marriages, and never (really) figured how they managed to keep it legal (I know they didn’t, but no proof.)

    The rules may be hard to live with, but they have logic and reason behind them, notwithstanding what “Springboard” may think or believe. They are a way of life for people who understand words like integrity, honor, courage and duty. Maybe “Springboard” should step back, take a few deep breaths and try to understand that those words are more than just a concept, or words you say to try and impress new “friends” at a party.

    Ya know what I mean Bubba?


  • To prove adultery under the UCMJ, you have to catch a couple in flagrante delecto. It is very hard to prove and is nothing more than a pile on charge. Unless they admit it and most people don’t do that.

    The real issue is the fact that the “Star Trek ” vision of the service does not work. Guys are going to have sex with a girl who says “yes”.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    “To prove adultery under the UCMJ, you have to catch a couple in flagrante delecto.”

    Not necessarily. If, in the course of the investigation there are witnesses (and it surprising how often there are), a service member can be charged. And, quite often, the SM admits it.

    But even if adultery is unclear, commissioned and warranted officers are certainly subject to Art 133 (Conduct).

    As for your assertion regarding the “Star Trek” version and girls who say “yes”, well-put. The J C Harveys of the world have a long uphill push.

  • Still_In_The_BloodStripe

    To quote Skippy: Guys are going to have sex with girls who say “yes.”

    And to expand: Women will sometimes abuse sex appeal to get what they want. And some women, when granted real authority (as in Captain’s bars, are no less prone to abuse their position of authority than is any man granted similar authority.

    URR reads this exactly right: This lady Captain derelicted her duty in allowing/pursuing this relation from word one. Under no circumstances, and regardless of the sexes in question, should an officer engage in a sexual relationship with a married person not their spouse. Period, end of story. Violation of the UCMJ, even back in the day that I wore the uniform, when “Clinton” was an unknown.

    If the married person is additionally a junior officer or enlisted, and even more egregiously a member of the officer’s command, such actions should lead immediately to cashiering said officer. For the simple reason that the other problems involved here, the WO’s horrid offenses etc, could NOT have happened had this Captain kept her oath and kept her pants on.

    It was her personal failing as an officer and leader of troops that precipitated the whole ugly mess.

    Whether she instigated the relationship, or if she was approached, she should have had the integrity to say no. That she did not is prima facie evidence of her inability to command.