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Adultery in the Military

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  • The misuse, if any, of government time and resources to facilitate the commission of the conduct.
One time (again at Edwards Air Force Base), I received at 10:00 p.m. phone call from an upset spouse of one of the members assigned to my squadron. She said that she thought her husband was having an affair, so she followed him that night as he went to the base bowling alley, picked up a young woman and then went to the squadron building.

I drove over to the squadron and went to the member's duty section. Using my master key, I quietly opened the door and -- well, you get the picture. Obviously this member's choice of location to conduct his adulterous activities was a clear violation of this particular standard.

  • Whether the conduct persisted despite counseling or orders to desist; the flagrancy of the conduct, such as whether any notoriety ensued; and whether the adulterous act was accompanied by other violations of the UCMJ.
In the vast majority of cases, if a commanding officer receives information that a member is, or might be, involved in an adulterous affair, the commander attempts to resolve the situation by counseling the member. In some cases, the counseling is accompanied by a legal order to desist in any adulterous affair. If the member then complies, that's usually the end of the matter. Recall the Lt. Kelly Flynn case from page 1 of this article. The First Sergeant and commander tried to resolve the situation with a counseling and an order to terminate the relationship. Had Lt. Flynn complied, she might be a senior officer in the Air Force to today. But, she disobeyed the order, violating Article 90 of the UCMJ, then lied about it, in violation of Article 107.
  • The negative impact of the conduct on the units or organizations of the accused, the co-actor or the spouse of either of them, such as a detrimental effect on unit or organization morale, teamwork, and efficiency.
A quiet adulterous affair that nobody knows about is probably not going to have a negative impact on the unit(s) of the parties involved. On the other hand if "everyone" in the unit "knows" about it (like any "office affair"), it can cause tension and resentment within the unit.

One time, while assigned as a First Sergeant to an Air Force F-15 squadron at Bitburg Air Base in Germany, our squadron was sent TDY (Temporary Duty) for two weeks to Nellis AFB (Las Vegas) to participate in an annual "Red Flag" flying exercise. About half-way through the TDY, I picked up on a rumor that at an off-base party on Friday night, a certain two-striper female operations clerk and a certain married captain (commissioned officer) pilot were seen dancing pretty "hot and heavy" in a corner of the bar where the party occurred. "Everyone knew" what probably happened that night, when the couple left the bar.

When I heard the rumor, I briefed the commander, and he counseled the pilot, while I had a talk with the enlisted member. We had no "proof" that sexual intercourse happened, but we wanted to nip the situation in the bud. To all indications, the affair (if any) ended immediately. However, when we returned to home base, the rumors persisted. If the two-striper smiled at the pilot when he walked by, the hallways were full of whispers. If it seemed that the pilot spent too much time at the duty desk (where the airman worked) looking over the daily flight schedule, the whispers would start again.

One day the whispers reached the ears of the pilot's wife and she passed the rumor on to the Wing Commander (however, she most certainly did not "whisper"). That's when all the stuff hit the proverbial fan. While the crime of "adultery" wasn't charged (no way to prove that actual sexual intercourse had occurred), the pilot received an Article 15 for fraternization (inappropriate conduct with an enlisted member), which pretty much ended his career. The enlisted member quietly asked for a discharge, and it was readily approved (she received a "general" discharge).

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