Cabin fever ain't no excuse. Just because you are living in Alaska doesn't make adultery OK. Especially not under the UCMJ.
An Alaska-based Lt. Col. is under investigation by the Army for condoning affairs at his remote missile-defense outpost, according to this story.
Several of his subordinates complained to Missile Defense Command in Alabama that Lt. Col. Joseph Miley, commander of the Alaska Army National Guard’s 49th Missile Defense Battalion, said in a meeting early this year that adultery isn’t punishable under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and that, simply, “the modern military is an environment where sexual misconduct is commonplace.”
Miley is already under investigation for promoting among his troops a fundraiser pin-up calendar for the American Cancer Society which prominently featured his scantily clad wife. We talked about that calendar over here last year.
Of course, Miley is wrong about the adultery thing. UCMJ (Article 134, to be exact) does label adultery a criminal offense if the affair “was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.”
His statement to his troops are of particular concern because it was given at an officers’ meeting called because of an alleged affair. From the story:
“Miley called the January meeting of all officers in the battalion after one of his subordinates, a captain, allegedly had an affair with the wife of another officer in the unit, according to the three people.”And that wasn’t the only allegation of adultery in the command of 195 soldiers, 16 of which are women. There are also complaints of a sexual affair between a non-commissioned officer (NCO) and several subordinates, the story says.
Let’s ignore the fact that this story is coming out in an atmosphere where the military has been shocked into realizing the extent of its problem with sexual assault. Let’s assume all of the people involved in this were completely consenting adults and not assaulted in any way (although that could very possibly not be true).
Let’s just focus on Lt. Col. Miley.
What Went Wrong HereI’m not at Fort Greely, Alaska. But I can imagine being stationed 250 miles Northeast of Anchorage, Alaska in what can be loosely defined as “the big fat middle of nowhere” gets a little antsy. That’s probably especially true in January, when the statement for which he is being investigated was made.
But cabin fever is no excuse for a ‘boys will be boys’ or a ‘hey everyone is doing it so it must be OK’ mentality. As your mother used to tell you, if everyone was jumping of a bridge would you do it, too?
Just because misconduct is “commonplace” does not make it excusable. And while we can all easily recall examples in our local commands of UCMJ’s adultery prohibition not being enforced, it’s taking it to the next level of acceptability to actually tell your junior officers that it actually isn’t illegal – it’s actually normal and totally OK.
Miley's alleged statement and corresponding mentality are great examples of the systemic problem in the military, and heck, even in civilian society. Since when is having an affair OK just because a bunch other people make the same mistake, too?
We need military leaders who, if they don't plan to be a cut-above the rest in their own lives, at least encourage those under them to do so.