|THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
WASHINGTON, DC 20301-1000
29 JUL 1998
|SECRETARIES OF THE MILITARY DEPARTMENTS
CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF
UNDER SECRETARIES OF DEFENSE
ASSISTANT SECRETARIES OF DEFENSE
GENERAL COUNSEL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
INSPECTOR GENERAL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
ASSISTANTS TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION AND MANAGEMENT
DIRECTORS OF THE DEFENSE AGENCIES
SUBJECT: Good Order and Discipline
Last July, I directed the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to lead a Task Force of senior representatives from the Services, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the DoD Inspector General to determine whether current policies and practices for maintaining good order and discipline in the all volunteer force are fair and effective. This Task Force obtained the views of field commanders, senior enlisted personnel, members of the reserve components, Service chaplains, the Chair of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services and other interested parties on the content, enforcement, general understanding and perception of our policies.
The information gathered by the Task Force indicated that breaches of good order and discipline in our Services are not widespread. The information further revealed, however, that the Services defined, regulated and responded to relationships between service members differently. Such differences in treatment are antithetical to good order and discipline, and are corrosive to morale, particularly so as we move towards an increasingly joint environment.
In order to support our national objectives, the military Services task organize, deploy and fight predominantly as a unified force. In todays military environment, we owe it to our forces to eliminate as many differences in disciplinary standards as possible and to adopt uniform, clear and readily understandable policies.
Accordingly, the Service Secretaries will, by policy, prohibit personal relationships such as dating, sharing living accommodations, engaging in intimate or sexual relations, business enterprises, commercial solicitations, gambling and borrowing between officer and enlisted regardless of their Service. This change will not affect existing marriages.
A more uniform policy is also needed in military recruiting and initial entry training environments. Interaction with recruiters and trainers offers the first examples of professional conduct expected of a military member and creates lasting impressions in new recruits. Similarly, military training and education are the means by which the values of military service are transferred. Because these relationships are so important, the Services shall prohibit personal relationships between recruiter and recruit, as well as between instructors and permanent party personnel with initial entry trainees.
In setting forth rules prohibiting unprofessional relationships, I want to make clear that professional interaction between officers and enlisted members is encouraged.
The best way to curtail inappropriate or unprofessional relationships is, of course, to prevent them through proper training and leadership by example. Should inappropriate relationships occur, commanders must carefully consider all facts and circumstances in reaching a disposition that is warranted, appropriate and fair. The failure to adhere to standards supportive of good order and discipline can often be satisfactorily addressed and corrected by appropriate administrative measures.
For any policy to be effective, it must be clear and understandable. I am directing each Service to prepare training materials explaining the Services policies and regulations pertaining to good order and discipline, specifically addressing how the policies are applied and written in language that is understandable to all.
Each Service will provide me its draft implementing plans within 30 days and training materials within 60 days.
William S. Cohen