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U.S. General Defends Iraq No Pregnancy Order

Michael Santo's picture

Facing criticism over his order banning pregnancies for those in his command in Iraq, a U.S. general has backed off, slightly. While there are still reprimands issued for those violating the order, it does not appear there will be any courts-martial involved.

Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo already has disciplined four women and three men, including two married couples. Cucolo says a pregnant soldier who goes home weakens the unit. The Inspector General in the area, Col. David Thompson, said the order was a lawful one.

In statements issued Tuesday, however, Cucolo made it clear he would not court-martial any service personnel. He did outline those already reprimanded.

To this point, there have been eight cases of women under his command getting pregnant. There have only been a total of seven disciplined because one refused to name the father, and Cucolo did not attempt to pursue it further.

Four were given "local letters of reprimand," which means they will not end up in their permanent files and they would not be a factor in being considered for promotions. The four other women found out they were pregnant soon after they deployed. However, since they were not impregnated while deployed, no disciplinary action was taken. As is military policy, the women were sent back to the United States for medical care.

Of the men involved, three were reprimanded, but one was given a more severe punishment. As a sergeant and a non-commissioned officer, he received a written reprimand in his permanent file because he "fraternized" with a subordinate and committed adultery. Each would be considered a military crime without Cucolo's order, according to the major general.

Every military unit has a "General Order" that outlines its code of conduct. Commanders are allowed to add to those rules but are not allowed to reduce the rules. In this case, Cucolo wrote the additional rule after consulting with his subordinate commanders and military lawyers. This includes, he said, two female officers who both "supported it 100 percent."

Despite all this, Cucolo expected to receive criticism over his order once it became public. He told CNN:

"Look, I realize it might be hard for those who have never served in a military unit to completely understand what I tried to explain. "[Leaving] those who depend on you shorthanded in a combat zone gets to be very personal for those left, too.

"I will listen to critics and they add thought, but they actually don't have to do anything. I have to accomplish a very complex mission -- very complex. I'm going to do what it takes to maintain our strength and bring as many home as I can. ... I believe the American people expect me to do everything I can to keep every one of the soldiers that their money, their taxpayer dollars, trained and got ready for this in the fight."

Written by Michael Santo

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