Get pregnant while on active duty in Northern Iraq under Major General Tony Cucolo's command, and you get in trouble. Penalties for getting pregnant, or for a male soldier who impregnates a female soldier would be administered under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, likely in the form of a letter of reprimand and perhaps a reduction in grade and a small monetary fine.
When asked about this policy put in place last month, Gen. Cucolo said 'I realize it might be hard for those who have never served in a military unit. I knew there would be public interest and I am fine with that, that's Americans. I've got to take every measure to preserve my combat power.'
To date, the order is considered valid and has not been challenged by anyone other than by National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O'Neill. She has reportedly requested via correspondence to the military commander in chief, President Obama, that he intervene and countermand this standing order. Ms. O'Neill was quoted as saying 'well it may be his prerogative to be dumb but that's really not a very good idea.' .
The two sides of this issue are of keen interest to me.
The army, as represented by Gen. Cucolo, has finally taken a baby step towards turning back decades of political correctness as it pertains to women in combat or combat support roles. Prior to this, great pains were taken to insure that women were given equal standing in the ranks with their male counterparts, but were given great latitude regarding issues that relate only to female soldiers, and pregnancy is the primary issue here. Male members of combat and combat support units for decades have been expected to pick up the slack for missing females in their ranks when the females became pregnant while on active duty.
Each unit (be it a platoon, battalion, regiment, division, etc.) has specific man power allotments prescribed by equipment and staffing regulations (technically called TO&E, or Table of Organization and Equipment) that specify how many soldiers are required to carry out any unit's assigned mission. For example, an army supply company may specify 100 soldiers, but the ratio of male to female soldiers within that company has never been specified. If at any one time, 10 female soldiers are pregnant and have been relieved of more strenuous duties via a medical document of pregnancy (called a 'medical profile'), the remaining 90 soldiers must still perform 100% of the duties of this supply company to meet it's mission requirements. Many times this involves additional guard duty, for example, or other unpleasant duties that are shouldered by fewer soldiers, and morale suffers accordingly. Resentment towards these pregnant females builds over time, when they have been given light admin duties involving pencil pushing and drinking coffee, rather than sitting out in the cold numbing snow or perhaps searing, sweltering heat at a guard post. General effectiveness of these affected units is diminished as a result.
Terry O'Neill sees things in a totally different light: she does not understand that the purpose of an army is to kill people and break things. She looks at these positions as purely social in nature, and does not agree that armies should be going around killing people and breaking things. Ms. O'Neill is highly perturbed that the army does not continue in its old manner of coddling pregnant women, using the ranks of the military as a protector of a budding family, and paying these unproductive pregnant women full pay while they simultaneously adversely affect the cohesiveness and overall morale, and ultimately the fighting effectiveness of the unit.
Contrary to believing in the force of the military being used to protect and defend our country, Ms. O'Neill and her entire organization (NOW) are showing their true colors: they are pacifists who think (incorrectly) that people of different nations can always negotiate their differences away, and that evil does not exist in the world, only bad negotiators. She sincerely believes that we employ a standing army as a way to create jobs, and sending them into battle is not what they are there for. Or at least that is my guess as to what she thinks military people are supposed to do: sit around and cash a pay check but Heaven Forbid they actually kill people and break things.
. Terry O'Neill calls Gen. Cucolo 'dumb' for demanding that all soldiers under his command be accountable to their unit and fellow soldiers, I call Major General Tony Cucolo a patriot. We need more of this kind of policy in our military today, not less of it.
I know who the 'dumb' one is on this issue.