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News Release


Release No: 296-97
June 07, 1997


Defense Secretary William S. Cohen announced three initiatives to maintain the effectiveness and readiness of U.S. military forces and to ensure that policies governing good order and discipline are clear and fair.

“We have the world’s best military comprised of outstanding men and women,” Cohen said. “The difficult jobs our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines perform require rigorous training and firm discipline. A key to military effectiveness is a disciplinary system that is fair, equitable and clear. Recent perceptions that our system is inconsistent damage the morale of our troops. The actions I am taking today will assure that our training remains superb and that our rules are well understood at all levels of command.”

First, Cohen said that he intends to appoint an independent panel of private citizens to review gender integrated training and related issues in the services. The panel will study the training programs and policies of the armed services, examine related morale and discipline issues, and, based on this, recommend to the Secretary any changes or improvements necessary to assure the readiness and effectiveness of the all volunteer force. Former Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker has agreed to head the panel, which will report its findings in six months. Other members will be named soon.

“We must address these issues in a thorough, well-informed way that has credibility with the military, the Congress and the public,” Cohen said.

Second, Cohen has asked the Deputy Secretary of Defense to convene a task force that will review policies and practices essential to ensuring respect for the individual while maintaining good order and discipline in the all volunteer force. The task force will collect and analyze data from the last several years in order to review disciplinary patterns. Senior civilian and military representatives will sit on the task force, along with a representative of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The task force will consult closely with the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services and other sources outside the department, as appropriate. The task force will make initial recommendations in 90 days.

Third, Cohen instructed the General Counsel of the Department of Defense to review the clarity of existing guidance on adultery under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The goal is not to change the language of the Code but to examine the instructions for implementing Article 134 as it pertains to adultery. Specifically, the General Counsel will ask the Joint Service Committee on Military Justice (JSC) to review the instructions on adultery in the Manual for Courts-Martial and to propose clarifications, if necessary. Recommendations made by the JSC, which is comprised of senior legal officers from each of the services, will be reviewed by a panel of DoD and Coast Guard attorneys established in consultation with the DoD Inspector General and General Counsel and the judge advocates general and general counsels of the military departments. This review should be completed by Aug. 18. The panel’s evaluation will be coordinated with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Consistent with established practice, the Department will publish any proposed clarifications to the Manual in the Federal Register for public comment.

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff fully support these initiatives,” Cohen said. “They agree that we must do all we can to make sure that our rules are as clear and effective as possible. People in the military must have confidence that disciplinary practices are fair, and consistently applied.”

The outside panel chaired by Senator Kassebaum Baker will have access to all relevant departmental data concerning training, including the material generated by the Department’s task force on good order and discipline and the review conducted by the General Counsel.


[A copy of the text of the Secretary's Memorandum to the General Counsel follows.]




SUBJECT: Review of the Manual for Courts-Martial, United States

Recent events suggest the need to review the clarity of existing guidance related to adultery under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Accordingly, I request that you take the following action:

(1) Task the Joint Service Committee on military Justice (JSC) to review the applicable portions of the Manual for Courts-Martial, United States (1995 ed.), in particular part IV, paragraphs 60 and 62, and make recommendations as to whether additional guidance is necessary. If so, the JSC should propose clarifying additions to the Manual to implement its recommendations.
(2) Establish, in consultation with the DoD Inspector General, the General Counsels and Judge Advocates General of the Military Departments, the Chief Counsel of the Coast Guard, and the Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a panel of senior attorneys within DoD and the Coast Guard to evaluate the recommendations of the JSC. The panel's evaluation will be coordinated with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The panel should report its conclusions to you.
(3) Provide me your recommendations with respect to the Manual along with the evaluation of the panel. Upon my approval, consistent with established practice, publish any- proposed change to the Manual for public comment.

The JSC should complete its review by August 4,1997. The senior review panel should report to you by August 18, 1997.

  • (Signed)
  • William S. Cohen
  • cc:
  • Secretaries of the Military Departments Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • DoD Inspector General
  • Chief Counsel, U.S. Coast Guard

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