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By Staff Sgt. Alicia K. Borlik, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON -- In July 1998, Defense Secretary William Cohen directed the services to "adopt uniform, clear and readily understandable" fraternization policies. Cohen stated that the current separate policies were "corrosive to morale particularly as we move toward an increasingly joint environment."

The services submitted policy changes to Cohen that he approved Feb. 3, 1999. Once implemented, individual service policies will share common standards with respect to relationships between officers and enlisted personnel, recruiters and potential recruits and trainers and trainees.

The Army fraternization policy required many changes and the most toughening. Navy and Air Force policies required little change. Marine Corps policy required no change.

All the services prohibit personal and business relationships between officers and enlisted members, calling them prejudicial to good order and discipline. Personal relationships include dating, cohabitation and any sexual relationship. Business relationships include loaning and borrowing money and business partnerships.

Following is a breakdown of the individual service policies, including each service's definition of fraternization and examples of prohibited relationships. If the service made no significant changes, its current policy is used.

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Army Regulation 600-20
Changes Effective March 2, 1999

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AR 600-20 (Download .boo file) (NOTE: The IBM Library Reader Program is required to view this file. You can download it from the Army site (MS Windows only). File is approximately 2.5MB!)

The new Army policy on fraternization went into effect March 2, 1999. Army policy defines fraternization as a relationship between soldiers of different rank if the relationship appears to compromise authority, discipline and morale.

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What's New:
The following relationships are prohibited:

Personal Relationships:
Officer-enlisted personal relationships include dating, shared living accommodations and intimate and sexual relationships

Gambling between officers and enlisted personnel. No exceptions

Recruiters and recruits and any relationship between permanent party soldiers and initial-entry trainees

Officer-Enlisted Business Relationships:
Lending money and long-term business partnerships

 

Exceptions: Personal Relationships
Marriages between officers and enlisted personnel that currently exist and take place prior to March 1, 2000

Existing personal relationships between officer and enlisted personnel that were allowed under previous Army policy are exempt until March 1, 2000

wedding photoRelationships which violate policy only because of the promotion or change in status of one military member

For Army National Guard and Reserve Personnel only, personal relationships that exist due to civilian acquaintances unless individuals are on active duty other than Annual Training

For Regular Army, personnel relationships with a member of the National Guard of Reserve that exist through off duty association unless individuals are on active duty other than Annual Training

Exceptions: Business Relationships
Landlord/tenant relationships

One-time transactions such as sale of automobile or house

For Army National Guard and Reserve only, business relationships which exist through civilian occupation or employment

Intramarital business relationships between military members married prior to March 1, 2000

Existing business relationships between officer and enlisted personnel that were allowed under previous Army policy are exempt until March 1, 2000

 

What hasn't changed:
Social and family relationships between officer and enlisted personnel are allowed in the context of community organizations, athletic teams and events, unit based social functions or family gatherings

The Army continues to prohibit all unprofessional relationships which:

army graphicCompromise chain of command

Cause partiality or unfairness

Involve the improper use of rank for personal gain

Are exploitative or coercive in nature

Create an adverse impact on discipline, authority, morale or mission accomplishment

Relationships that appear to violate any of the above standards may also be prohibited

 

Uniquely Army

Current personal relationships that began before March 2, 1999 -- Must end relationship, get married or one member must leave the military before March 1, 2000

Current business relationship that began before March 2, 1999 -- End before March 1, 2000

 

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Air Force
Instruction 36-2909

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AF Instruction 36-2909 (Download .pdf file)

af photoThe Air Force Policy on fraternization essentially remains the same. Fraternization is defined as a personal relationship between an officer and an enlisted member that violates customary bounds of acceptable behavior in the Air Force.

 

What's New:
A new change to the Air Force policy prohibits relationships between Air Force military personnel and civilian employees or contract personnel if it erodes good order and discipline.

 

What hasn't changed:
The Air Force continues to prohibit all unprofessional relationships which:

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Prejudices good order and discipline

Discredits the armed services

Operates to the personal disgrace or dishonor of the officer involved

Air Force policy states the following:
Officers will not form personal relationships with enlisted members on or off duty

Fraternization applies to relationships between males, between females and between males and females

Fraternization is one form of an unprofessional relationship. Unprofessional relationships detract from the authority of superiors or create the appearance of favoritism, misuse of office or position or the abandonment of organizational goals for personal interests

Unprofessional relationships can be between officers, enlisted members, between officers and enlisted members and between military personnel and civilian employees or contract personnel

Uniquely Air Force

Air Force policy prohibits relationships between military personnel and civilian employees or contract personnel if it erodes good order and discipline.

 

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U. S. Navy

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The Navy revised its fraternization policy in 1994 to provide a more clear definition of what activities were punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Navy Instruction 5370.2A
(Download .pdf file)

 

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Fraternization is defined as a personal relationship between an officer and enlisted member that that has crossed the boundary of a senior-subordinate working relationship and doesn't respect differences in grade or rank. Such relationships are prejudicial to good order and discipline and violate long-standing traditions of the naval service.

 

What's New
No change in existing policy.

What hasn't changed:
The Navy continues to prohibit all unprofessional relationships which:

navy graphicCall into question a senior's objectivity

Result in actual or apparent preferential treatment

Compromise the chain of command

Uniquely Navy

The fraternization policy also covers relationships between enlisted members and between officers. It also puts chiefs (E-7 through E-9) in a separate personnel category and prohibits them from personal relationships with enlisted members E-1 through E-6 in the same chain of command.

 

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Marine Corps

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"The relationship between officers and enlisted
should in no sense
be that of superior and inferior nor than of
master and servant,
but that of teacher
and scholar."
Maj.Gen. John A. LeJeune
Commandant of the Marine Corps
1920 - 1929

 

 

Policy defines fraternization as personal relationships between officers and enlisted members that are unduly familiar and that don't respect differences in grade and rank. When prejudicial to good order and discipline or of a nature to bring discredit on the Marine Corps, these described relationships are prohibited. Prejudice to good order and discipline or discredit to the Marine Corps may result from any circumstance which calls into question.

What's New:
No change to existing policy.

What hasn't changed:
The Marine Corps policy continues to state:

Relationships between officers and enlisted must always reflect the difference in rank.

Fraternization is not limited to relationships between officers. Neither is it primarily a gender issue for the Corps.

Best described by Maj. Gen. John A. LeJeune, Commandant of the Marine Corps, who in 1921 described the proper relationship between officer and enlisted personnel as one of "comradeship and brotherhood, teacher and scholar."

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"The relationship between officers and enlisted should in no sense be that of superior and inferior nor that of master and servant, but that of teacher and scholar."

Uniquely Marine Corps

The Marines' tradition of prohibiting unduly familiar relationships between senior and junior dates back to the very beginning of the Corps.

The Bottom Line:
Though the terminology and examples given in each service's policy may vary, the rules are consistent. Engaging in prohibited relationships is punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

 

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