Friday, May 23, 2008

“Ban on Sex for Soldiers in Afghanistan Lifted…Sort Of”

This was the subject line in the email from that greeted me this morning when I awoke. As busy as I am, I had to read the article reprinted from the May 15th Stars and Stripes and reported by Drew Brown. Here are the first paragraphs of that story:

JALALABAD, Afghanistan -- Single soldiers and civilians working for the U.S. military in Afghanistan can now have sex legally. Sort of.

A new order signed by Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-101, has lifted a ban on sexual relations between unmarried men and women in the combat zone.

General Order No. 1 outlines a number of prohibited activities and standards of conduct for U.S. troops and civilians working for the military in Afghanistan. Previously, under the regulation, sexual relations and "intimate behavior" between men and women not married to each other were a strict no-no. The regulation also barred members of the opposite sex from going into each other’s living quarters unless they were married to each other.

But the latest version of General Order No. 1 for Afghanistan, which Schloesser signed April 19, eases those restrictions.

The new regulation warns that sex in a combat zone "can have an adverse impact on unit cohesion, morale, good order and discipline."

But sexual relations and physical intimacy between men and women not married to each other are no longer banned outright. They’re only "highly discouraged," and that’s as long as they’re "not otherwise prohibited" by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to the new order.

I’m not sure what I think of this new order for U.S soldiers in Afghanistan partly because, for me, the idea of sex in a combat zone is connected to U.S. troops in Vietnam: In my book MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL that takes place in 1970, Sharon worries about her husband Robert sleeping with Vietnamese women after she’s run into a high school classmate of hers at the Officers Club who is just back from Vietnam:

“She wonders whether Mark had a lot of experience dancing quite close to those Vietnamese women she's heard about, their thick black hair hanging straight down their backs, their native costumes – Sharon isn't quite sure what these look like so she pictures the revealing garment worn by the young lieutenant's Polynesian girlfriend in the film version of "South Pacific" – leaving bare shoulders exposed and no undergarments underneath.

“Will Robert be dancing with those sexy Vietnamese women soon?”

Does anyone reading this blog have an opinion about the new Afghanistan “sex” order? If so, I hope you’ll share your opinion in the comments below.

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