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DoD News Briefing, July 29, 1998, 1:40 p.m. (EDT)

Presenters: Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Rudy de Leon
July 29, 1998 1:40 PM EDT

(Also participating in this briefing is Department of Defense General Counsel Judith Miller and Director of the Joint Staff Vice Adm. Dennis Blair)

Capt. Doubleday: Good afternoon. This is a briefing about Secretary Cohen's guidance to make more uniform good order and discipline policies amongst the Services. The Secretary started the process over a year ago.

Here today with us are Rudy de Leon, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness; Judith Miller, the Department's General Counsel; and Vice Admiral Dennis Blair, the director of the Joint Staff. Mr. de Leon chaired a task force that spent the year working on this issue. Ms. Miller headed another review regarding the clarity of existing guidance on adultery under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Admiral Blair was among the senior officers who participated in the effort over the past year.

We'll start with a brief statement by Mr. de Leon and then one from Adm. Blair. All three individuals will then be available to answer questions, some of your questions, Mr. de Leon from an overall policy perspective, Ms. Miller from a legal perspective and Adm. Blair from the perspective of a commander and a military officer who's had experience in the field.

Mr. de Leon.

Secretary de Leon: Good afternoon. Let me begin by explaining the background for actions Secretary Cohen has directed today.

Last year, Secretary Cohen, with the full support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced three initiatives to maintain the effectiveness and readiness of our military forces to ensure that policies governing good order and discipline are uniform, clear and fair. The first initiative was fulfilled by the implementation of the vast majority of the Kassebaum Baker recommendations pertaining to military training and related issues. The second initiative was a review to determine whether current policies and practices for maintaining good order and discipline in the all volunteer force are fair, effective and clearly understood. The last initiative was a review of the clarity of the existing guidance on the offense of adultery under the Uniform Code of Military Justice [UCMJ].

Based upon the results of those last two reviews, Secretary Cohen has now directed actions to standardize good order and discipline policies among the Services and to clarify guidance intended to assist commanders as they dispose of allegations of misconduct. He has directed the Service secretaries to produce draft implementing policies within 30 days and training materials within 60 days to ensure Service policies and regulations are more uniform, clear and fair and enhance force effectiveness and readiness.

Guidance is detailed in the DoD press release material that you've been handed out earlier today.

I would like to make three points briefly. And then, after Adm. Blair's comments, I'd be happy to answer any questions that you have.

First, the information gathered by the task force indicates that breaches of good order and discipline in our military are not widespread. Our goal is to maintain high standards with fair enforcement. We have the finest military in the world today. A major reason for the continued success of America's military in operations around the world day to day is because the military Services have always been concerned with the maintenance of high standards of good order and discipline.

Second, our work determined that there are perceived and actual inconsistencies in Service policies and practices for addressing breaches of good order and discipline. The Services define, regulate and respond to unprofessional relationships between Service members differently. Given the fact that the members of different Services now frequently serve side by side in joint operations, some of the differences in Service policy create confusion, are corrosive to morale. The actions being directed today address those inconsistencies.

Lastly, on the subject of adultery, there have been misconceptions in some of the initial reporting. The mandate stated last June in the DoD press release and in the implementing documents for the review was not to change the language of the UCMJ but to examine instructions for applying Article 134. That mandate was followed. There has been no change in the definition or the elements of proof for that offense, no change in the maximum allowable punishment, and no lowering of standards.

And now, I'd like to ask Adm. Blair for his comments and then we'd be happy to take your questions.

Adm. Blair: As Secretary de Leon mentioned, I was part of the group here in the Pentagon that was working these issues. But I'd like to put it into the operational context for you a little bit, what it means in the fleet and in the field.

The reason that we're doing all of this has to do with combat effectiveness and the foundation of teamwork standards that lies underneath that. Let's talk, for example, about fraternization. The big principle here is the impartiality of command, the impartiality of the chain-of-command, both actual and perceived. Our superiors in the armed forces have incredible authority over their subordinates. In war, they send them out to die. Their decisions are that important. In peace time, the superior's decisions make the difference between success, professional success and failure in each of our servicemen's and women's career. So they have to be fair and impartial and they have to be perceived to be. The key thing for me in what the Secretary has done is that the emphasis on the guidelines, the emphasis on the training materials will help our people wend our way through these ever more complicated situations that the armed forces are in in order that our seniors can act fairly, can know what the standards are, and so that their subordinates can perceive them to be fair, to be impartial.

This is independent of gender. This has to do with the relationships between males, male seniors and male subordinates and between seniors and subordinates of the opposite gender. And this is extremely important to keep that teamwork, to keep those standards going.

On the issue of adultery, it has more to do with standards and teamwork within our military units. In my career, I've run into an adultery case one time in six years of command. I think it's the same for most of our commanding officers. When these things come up, they're thinking about the teamwork within their outfit, they're thinking about the character of the people involved and they're really looking out for guidelines and help in order to deal with this and look at this full range of tools that our commanders have to deal with them -- counseling, non-judicial punishment, courts martial, performance evaluations.

What, to me, is very important about what the Secretary has done is by laying out these number of new factors that commanders should consider when they're dealing with these cases, you really give a distillation of the wisdom of the many people who have dealt with them over time into a place so it gives the commanders some help to make his or her decisions. I would have been grateful for that as a commander at the time that I had to deal with it. The particular case that I dealt with ended up in Admiral's mast, a very serious form of non-judicial punishment. And the extra assistance that we're now going to be giving in the Manual for Courts - Martial I think will help -- would have helped me and will help our commanders in the future.

So to me, what we've done here is going to really reinforce the essentials of the high combat effectiveness of our military forces. It's going to ensure the impartiality of the chain-of-command, going to help us with keeping teamwork within the organization and maintain the standards which are the basis of what we do. So that's really the bottom line, I think, for those of us on the operational side of it.

And I think we're going to have some questions.

Secretary de Leon: We are ready to take questions.

Q: I think the biggest complaint you hear from the field these days in this area is different spanks for different ranks. That is, generals get off, the sergeants get charged. How does this clarification speak to that issue?

A: Secretary de Leon: I think that what we've tried to do is to outline all of the tools that are available to commanders. Again, I said high standards, fair enforcement. There are a wide variety of tools that are available. We stressed that. I think there is a chart in one of the -- in the report that I wrote that just simply outlines all of those reports [tools]. We think that just in having these discussions with the Services on a policy level-- because we're really restricted by the rules from having any kind of policy discussion when there's an active case pending that we're working on -- that we've really tried to stress the fairness side. You know, clear and fair. So I think if you look at that chart that really outlines fair and even-handed enforcement, that was the message that we were trying to make.

I don't know if Adm. Blair or Ms. Miller have any comments they'd like to make on that side.

Adm. Blair: My experience is that the fair standard is most important at the unit level, not whether somebody happens to read an article and make some comparison about something that happened half way around the world. To me, what makes the most importance is if something happened on your ship, in your squadron, in your wing, was it dealt with fairly in the eyes of those who are in that group? And I think these guidelines help us a lot with that in all of the areas that are touched. And I'm really less concerned with sitting around the coffee pot talking about whether some case in another Service half a world away was handled in another way because you don't really know what the facts are anyway.

Q: Well, jumping right to the headlines then, under these rules or this guidance, would the Kelly Flinn case be pursued? And on the other hand, would the Gen. Ralston case be pursued? I would guess reading them that maybe the answer is no, but I don't know.

A: Secretary de Leon: Just a couple things. One, we really tried to look at the policy and all of the mechanisms that are available. Second, our system is really distinguished by the fact that it is the commander in the field that we give the maximum discretion to. We don't really want to saddle that person with excessive policy guidance because that person out there is really best suited to make the decisions. Again, our focus was to come up with the right kind of tools. And then third, we really didn't go back. We were really focusing on policy. We didn't really go back and try to rethink any case.

Right here.

Q: Does adultery in and of itself bring discredit down upon the armed services or is it the manner in which that adultery is manifested?

A: Ms. Miller: I think you probably know from the materials that adultery has always been defined in terms of a criminal offense under the UCMJ as including three elements. And the element that you referred to, the third element, Service discrediting or prejudicial to the good conduct, good order and discipline of the organization are factors that are not under the case law met simply by an act of sexual intercourse with someone who's married. So you have to put forward something more. And what we've tried to do is to distill both from military justice practitioners and from the cases that have dealt with adultery in the past, some factors that typically come up on both of those -- the third element of the offense -- and put it in one place, a kind of easily accessible place for commanders and staff judge advocates to deal with.

Q: Is the objective here to have commanders initiate fewer court martials in adultery cases and handle them administratively? Is that the objective?

A: Secretary de Leon: I just think that the goal in the discussions with the vice chiefs was to ensure commanders knew they had a full spectrum of mechanisms that they could take. You know, we have a little chart that is in the report that we've also blown up and can hand out. But I think we don't want to give guidance to commanders. At the same time, commanders have wide discrepancy [discretion] in terms of what they can do. And so, we just wanted to refresh everyone that indeed, there were a number of ways that a commander could satisfactorily solve a case.

I think you have a follow up?

Q: What's the bottom line here? I'm not quite clear what you're trying to change. Fewer cases, more cases?

A: Secretary de Leon: I think fair enforcement. And I think that we found that the cultures sometimes had an impact. Some Services tend to really use the administrative remedies more than they use the criminal justice remedies. I think there were logical reasons for that. Lots of discussion about that. Our point in the little diagram is again, to show that cases can be resolved satisfactorily using any of these mechanisms.

Q: Has there been unfairness up to this point? And if so, what sort of unfairness are you thinking about?

A: Secretary de Leon: Again, I'm not going to second guess a commander because commanders have this very important responsibility. We just wanted to show that there were a variety of tools that were available and to make sure that each commander knew that these tools were available. I think that, the vice chiefs were very clear on this.

Q: Can you say how this would apply to the National Guard and Reserves where you could conceivably have other sorts of relationships that are problematic? You know, fellow employees of the same company, supervisor relationship, same bowling league. Does that stuff all have to be cut out?

A: Ms. Miller: I think that the issue you're addressing is fraternization and the changes in particular that the Army will face. The sort of short answer to that, I believe, is that they have 30 days to come forward with a plan to address some of the specifics. But the other point to make is that the other Services have had this policy apply in the Guard and Reserve. And at least according to the testimony that we heard in the task force on good order and discipline, that worked pretty well for them. So I think it's mostly a transition question.

Q: Doesn't the Army have a more liberal policy in terms of fraternization and now it's basically being asked to drastically revamp it? As I understand, the new policy says absolutely no fraternization, whereas now or before, there was some permitted.

A: Secretary de Leon: As we got into the discussions, it was clear that the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard sort of saw officer - enlisted relations one way. The Army, somewhat differently. Since 1986, with Goldwater -Nichols, we have really become a joint force. We have talked to CINCs about this. And in fact, you know, our group talked -- the vice chiefs were members as were the Service under secretaries. Commanders came in and spoke with us, enlisted came in and spoke with us. The Chaplains came in, who gave us very good advice. Guard and Reserve, judge advocates, CINCs. So I think there was -- we have moved to a joint environment. And so, there was confusion. Some of the enlisted troops have a term that you have to sort of have a "radar philosophy" at bases to understand what the prevailing tradition is in terms of rules that are enforced. The Army felt it had a good policy. It was really, though, the discussions from the joint perspective that I think had an impact on the Secretary and the Chairman.

Adm. Blair: I think that's true. The Army had a policy which allowed officer - enlisted relationships as long as they did not interfere with it. And the Army is going to change to be in line with what the other Services had developed, which is that officer - enlisted relations and fraternization is going to be prohibited on that basis alone. And that is going to be a change. And the Army thought it had a good policy. The Secretary has made his decision on the fact that we need to be uniform, as Mr. De Leon mentioned. We think that's better for joint operations for the tighter organizations we're being put into and we'll go ahead and do it that way.

Q: Did you find any problems with the way the Army policy has operated? Did you find a greater instance of punishment being meted out or lesser punishment or more cases that had to be brought for adjudication on the issue of fraternization? I mean, was there anything wrong with the way the Army policy, aside from the way it didn't mesh with the other Services, was operating?

A: Secretary de Leon: I think the key issue is really the joint environment. There were pluses and minuses of the policy as it existed. But I think in the end, we really are a joint operation around the world. And it was essentially the fact that Services, members of different Services are out there side by side and you really can't have different set, of rules governing their conduct.

Q: You found nothing wrong with the Army policy, right, except that?

A: Secretary de Leon: What I said was there were pluses and minuses and I really don't want to --

Q: Pluses and minuses in the other Services?

A: Secretary de Leon: I just say pluses and minuses.

Q: If the emphasis, though, was on jointness, you could just as well have told the Navy, the Air Force and the Marine Corps to adopt the Army policy. What was it that made you tell the Army to change rather than telling the rest to change?

A: Secretary de Leon: You know, I think it was, again, consultation with all of these different groups that came in and spoke with us, that in general there was a desire to have a clean break between the enlisted and the officers.

Q: Could you help me, walk me through some real life scenarios here? If I'm a married person and my wife and I split up and I start dating and having intercourse with another person, in or outside the service, let's say, is this going to be a violation of the new policies? If I'm a young person in the military and I'm dating another person in the military, do I need to find a chaplain and rush to the altar? I mean, how are the troops supposed to take this? Could you talk about sort of real life circumstances that are confronted in private sector companies all the time.

A: Secretary de Leon: I think the private sector thinking on this is evolving. I'm trying to discern the question in that and how to answer. I think we'll go through a transition period with respect to the Army but our goal was to make the policy clear and fair. That was the tasking a year ago and I think that's what we've tried to do. I think that's what's embodied in the materials.

Q: Ms. Miller, what's your legal advice on these points? Should I go get married?

A: Ms. Miller: I don't give legal advice off the top of my head, I guess is the first point. But I think on the question you asked with respect to adultery, what we have done is simply give additional explanatory material to the commanders. We have not changed the elements of the offense.

Q: So commanders would view this in a different context?

A: Ms. Miller: No, I think what I'm saying is that you would have to look at the particular facts of the case and all of the facts and figure out, first of all, whether the facts actually meet the elements of the offense that are set out or whether you should be, even be thinking about whether there is an offense of adultery there. And if there is, what's the best disposition and way of handling that? And you can't really answer that in the abstract. You have to really know the facts of a given situation.

Adm. Blair: Let me take a fraternization case. You've got a division on a ship, a division on a destroyer. Men, women, chiefs, officers, some mixtures of each. You're going to have a division softball game, so you all go out in the afternoon and you play on baseball teams. They're mixed up -- officers, chiefs, sailors, men, women, all on opposite teams, cheering, high fiving, all having a good time. Terrific. Softball game's over. Now you bring out a couple cases of beer and you have the after game party. Everybody's there, full daylight, we won, you lost, I beat you, I struck you out. Great. Going on fine.

Time goes on, now it's about 1900 [hours], now it's time you're breaking up into groups. A group of people, some women, some men, some officers, some chiefs heading over to the club to have the post, post party party. Now you're beginning into the territory where you have to begin thinking about the situation and where it's taking and who's picking up with him. One officer, one female officer asks one attractive male enlisted to go out and have a drink together up in the club later on? No, you don't want to do that.

So what we're trying to do in the fraternization is in this world of people in the armed forces doing the things that we do, how do we draw these lines here so that bosses are bosses and the folks working for them are the folks working for them and everybody sees that and everybody understands that. That's what we're trying to preserve, to keep the teamwork, to keep the unit cohesion and keep the impartiality that you have to have when you go to back to work the next day and you say, okay, it's the refueling detail. I'm going to tell off 10 people to go out on that wet deck, tend the line. One of them may get swept overboard. That officer is not saying well, Jones, you go, Smith -- no, I had a drink last night with Veronica here, she stays, he goes. That's what we're trying to get at here on the fraternization area. As I say, we've worked it through and this issue had nothing gender for many years and we're trying to apply those same principles to this new armed forces that we have in which we have mixed-gender crews in the Navy and certainly in all of the things that we're doing in the armed forces.

Q: How about officers and subordinate officers and the fraternization implications of that?

A: Adm. Blair: Yeah, officers and subordinate officers, it's the exact same thing. If I have a commander working for me, then it's the same sort of relationship involved. I don't treat any one of my subordinates in a special way that will either affect my own thinking --

Q: (Inaudible)

A: Adm. Blair: I've got to think about the circumstances in which it's done and both the perceptions and the reality of our relationship, so I keep that distance both in my own mind and in the minds of everybody else who's working in the office.

Q: Admiral, if you had an officer who was separated, though, with his wife and there was no nexus with the morale of the troops or the execution of the mission, that would be viewed differently under these new rules, is that correct?

A: Adm. Blair: Still talking about the fraternization issue or have we shifted here?

Q: Talking about the argument over adultery and what constitutes adultery in modern America. If I'm married, I'm separated from my wife, and I'm not divorced and I'm having an affair with another woman, or --

A: Adm. Blair: I'm losing track here.

Secretary de Leon: Let me go -- you had your hand up.

Q: I think I'm feeling the same -- because I'm trying to get clear. If you could spell out what are these extra considerations which a commander has to take, has to look at when considering an adultery case. Presumably, that's what you've done here. You've changed the way in which it must be looked at and considered and I can't really work out the difference. What's new?

A: Secretary de Leon: Why don't I make a suggestion? The written document is part of the package. We've got some judge advocates here who can really go through hypotheticals, things like that.

Q: Well, I don't really mean hypotheticals. This is -- presumably you spent a year doing this. You're not able to spell out what's changed?

A: Ms. Miller: I think that the point on the adultery work is that we have not done something new. What we've tried to do is explain better to our commanders and the staff judge advocates in the field in one spot in the Manual that ends up being changed as we're proposing, to have a place to look specifically for guidance on how to figure out whether the third element of the offense -- prejudicial to good order and discipline or Service detrimental -- is fulfilled. And if you look at the proposal for publication, there are nine factors. Actually, there's more than that. But there are a number of factors spelled out as being things that are relevant to that determination. And those factors are largely drawn from prior military justice practice and from case law that has dealt with -- struggled with these issues in situations where the question arises after someone was court -- martialed, did you in fact make out a case on the third element. So what we've just tried to do is put in one place, sort of in one stop shopping, for the commander in the field, the kind of distilled wisdom that people have developed over the years in this one area.

Q: What we're talking about is specifically the third element.

A: Ms. Miller: Yes.

Q: That's the change.

A: Ms. Miller: That's the clarification.

Q: Same question slightly different. What you've changed is you brought the Army in line with the other services and you've given a laundry list of nine - [Another reporter] You're mixing apples and oranges.

Q: Once you go through the public comment stage, how do you actually make the changes to the Manual for Courts - Martial? Doesn't the President have to --

A: Ms. Miller: It's a well established process. When we make any changes in the Manual, we propose them by publishing them in the Federal Register. There's a 75 day public comment period. We have one public hearing during that time so that people can come in and express their opinions orally as well. Those comments are brought back to the Joint Service Committee, which is a long-standing [committee] that we have that works specifically on dealing with issues relating to the Manual for Courts - Martial. They consider whether any of the comments would lead us to make a change in the proposed change in the Manual. That is then coordinated within the Department and through the interagency with OMB and it's ultimately sent to the President as a proposed Executive Order.

Q: Are these changes effective now?

A: Ms. Miller: They are not effective now. What the Secretary has done today is to approve these explanatory materials for publication in the Federal Register as the first step toward the potential change in the Manual for Courts - Martial.

Q: Secretary de Leon, two technical questions for the Army. The Army, in recent years, has had a trend of combining its O[fficer] clubs and its enlisted clubs together. Are you going to recommend or do you want them to reinstitute separate clubs for officer and enlisted? And second, on marriage in the Army, I understand there have been a thousand existing officer - enlisted couples in the Army. Are they grandfathered in? And are existing relationships that are not yet resulting in marriage grandfathered in?

A: Secretary de Leon: First, I think there are about 500 marriages of officer-enlisted in the Army. Those will be protected, as will marriages between enlisted and enlisted where one of them applies to become an officer and does. That is consistent with the rules and regulations of the other Services. In terms of other relationships, we'll be obviously working with the Army during this 30 day period as they obviously work on a transition program. We want to make sure that we stress common sense as we go through this transition.

With respect to the issue of the clubs, I think there is a fundamental restructuring going on on bases. To say that officer clubs and enlisted clubs are being combined is somewhat, is a very brief description. There's a reordering where troops today who serve like to take their families and go eat. And it's much more like the mall across the street. You know, they're much more interested in that kind of environment than the O club and enlisted club. And so, you know, I think this is just simply a marketplace change that is occurring in each of the Services.

Q: There was an outcry while this thing was under discussion was basically, some members of the Service, particularly the Commandant of the Marine Corps and outsiders who thought that you were going to change the perception of what was considered wrongful conduct. Particularly to Adm. Blair, as a commanding officer and a future CINC, do you see any change in the perception that these instructions and guidelines are going to present as far as what's acceptable behavior in the armed services?

A: Adm. Blair: The short answer is no. But when you're a commanding officer, as I say, you get maybe one of these in your time and you're sort of looking around to deal with it. There is a tremendous difference between a couple of young, unhappy sailors whose marriages have gone on the rocks going off for a weekend and an officer, who during a deployment [is] running around with other officers' wives back in the home port while he's back at a school away from the deployment. There's a tremendous difference in terms of the human dimension of this, in terms of the effect on the morale of the unit and the standards that you expect. You kind of know that when you're a commanding officer and you have to deal with it. But what you do is open that Manual for Courts - Martial, start going through it, thinking about, okay, what's actually involved here as far as what I have to think about in terms of applying non-judicial punishment, counseling or refer it to court martial. And what this, to me, does is gives you sort of a reassuring set of pegs that you can use to calibrate yourself as you're trying to apply the tools that you have in order, number one, to uphold standards, number two, to keep the teamwork of your outfit in tact, and number three, sort of do the right thing.

So, to my mind, this reaffirms what good commanders were doing over the years, gives them reassurance and helps those who are not so sure to really find their bearings in this situation. And I completely agree that we want to keep this as a tool of command. Every so often, it will go wrong. Some commanding officer will completely blow it and flip over on the side of dealing with something in a way that I'm sure in retrospect, he or she wished he hadn't done. But that's less important than, I think, maintaining this principle which we've now clarified quite a bit in my mind.

Q: So you see no change in the standard?

A: Adm. Blair: I see no change in the standard and I see a lot of help in applying those standards.

Capt. Doubleday: We're going to have time, just so I can pace you all, we're going to have time for about two more and then I'll have to close this part of it and then we can go to a background portion.

Q: This all got started last summer in an environment where Trent Lott and other people said the military needs to get real with its sex policies and adopt some standards that are closer to what is acceptable in society. And in fact, you seem to have gone the opposite direction. If anything, you've strengthened the rules that govern people's biological inclinations. Are you conscious of having in some fashion rejected the argument that military standards need to be brought more in line with society's standards?

A: Secretary de Leon: I think that military life is much different than life in the civilian side. There are a number of key differences. I think what we tried to stress was to make sure that we had high standards, that we had clear standards and that then there was fair enforcement of those standards. And that's really what we have focused on for this last year.

Q: You said that these problems are rare. Can you tell me whether there are dozens, scores, hundreds or thousands of cases of prosecutions for adultery and are there dozens, scores, hundreds or thousands of cases prosecuted for inappropriate fraternization?

A: Adm. Blair: I can give you one person's experience. Six years in command, one case of adultery that was handled at Admiral's mast, one case of fraternization that was also handled at Admiral's mast. So that's a sample which I don't think is atypical.

Secretary de Leon: I think there is a, considering we have a force of 1.4 million people, there are a very few numbers of these cases. What seems to happen is that these cases generate lots of public discussion but one of the issues the troops have raised when I'm in the field, is they're working very hard. They have a different OPTEMPO [operational tempo] than [in] the Cold War. They're doing incredible things around the world and they hope that that doesn't get lost when there is a case that is pending.

Q: If there were one Service that wanted to interpret correct behavior very simply, black and white? Adultery is bad, period. Is there leeway for that in these guidelines?

A: Ms. Miller: I think that the handout that we are planning to publish in the Federal Register starts out by saying adultery is unacceptable conduct and reflects poorly on a Service member's record. But with respect to the actual criminal offense of adultery, the Uniform Code of Military Justice has three elements. And whatever a Service does, it has to sort of conform with those elements. And I think that's really the short answer to the question.

Q: When I look at these things that you're going to publish in the Federal Register, the list of things that a commander should look at, it doesn't really give very much guidance about which of these factors should weigh more than another. It gives a list that probably any sensible commander would have thought of himself already. Then when I read down to the very end, it says commanders should dispose of an allegation of adultery at the lowest appropriate level. Is that new and that seems to be the thing that is most helpful to a commander?

A: Ms. Miller: That also is not new. It is a restatement of an existing rule of court-martial that applies to all offenses in the Uniform Code of Military Justice in the Manual. But what it does is put -- it's again, kind of one stop shopping. It puts every bit of guidance we're trying to sort of compress on adultery into one easily accessible place in the Manual.

Q: Just to clarify what you said a minute ago, though, if I am a commander and I discover that someone under my command has committed adultery, do I have the freedom to say that {prejudices} good order and discipline because as a commander, I feel I can no longer rely on this person if he or she would cheat on his or her spouse, I cannot rely on them. Therefore, it's prejudicial to good order and discipline and I need to take legal action? Do I have that discretion under these guidelines if I so choose to exercise it?

A: Ms. Miller: It really does depend on the facts. Just stating it that way, I can't answer the question in a reliable way. I mean, there's actually a lot of court cases that deal with whether or not under military justice provisions you could make out the third element. And it just depends on the facts. It may well be that you, in fact, could conclude that this was an offense. But it really does depend on the specifics of the individual offense.

Q: As long as you have that kind of murkiness, and maybe it's unavoidable, aren't you going to have inevitably, the suspicion in the ranks that the rules are not being applied in the same way?

A: Ms. Miller: I think that's really the point of putting the factors down, though. I mean, I don't think that we can reach absolute perfection here because one of the things we most wanted to -- perfection in that way -- because one of the things we wanted to protect above all was the ability of the commander in the field to make his own judgments about what he needed for the cohesion of his unit. That's the way we've operated sort of throughout history and arguably, it's one of the reasons that our military has been so successful and we don't want to undercut that.

Q: (Inaudible) uniform application?

A: Ms. Miller: The point I'm making is that while it may not guarantee absolute uniformity, by giving a set of factors that everyone can look to, it will help commanders on a practical, day-to-day basis try to come out with the right result.

Q: May I ask just one last thing? Mr. De Leon, do you expect that the end result of this will be fewer cases referred to court martial on adultery?

A: Secretary de Leon: Again, I would just come back to our point. What we've really tried to do is make sure that rules were clear and fair. You know, in a force of 1.4 million active duty and another several hundred thousand Guard and Reserve, I'm not going to stand here and predict what the future is going to hold. Our focus has been to make sure that we have things that we can clearly articulate and that people understand. And that's really what we've tried to do.

Capt. Doubleday: Thanks very much.

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