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Under new orders by general in charge of U.S. troops northern Iraq, pregnancy is now among the list of reasons a soldier under his command could face military court martial.
CNN reports, Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo outlined a new policy released by the Army that would apply to both US female soldiers in Iraq who become pregnant on the battlefield and the male soldiers in Iraq who impregnate them.
Typically, the service sends home from the battlefield US soldiers in Iraq who become pregnant. But it is not an Army-wide policy to punish them under the military's legal code.
This directive is part of a larger order restricting the behavior of the 22,000 soldiers in Iraq. It is meant to prevent losing them at a time when troop strength is stretched thin, Cucolo said in a statement to CNN.
According to an Army spokesperson, division commanders like Cucolo have the authority to impose these type of restrictions to personnel operating under their command. Cucolo will decide what cases will be pursued for a military court martial.
Pregnancy that arises from sexual assault would not be punished, Cucolo said.
Court-martial proceedings and punitive discharge involve discipline and punishments authorized by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) for minor to serious offenses and chronic offenders.
Under the policy a list of behaviors are prohibited including gambling, using drugs and selling a weapon. Other restrictions are aimed at preventing soldiers from leaving their unit short-handed, including becoming pregnant or undergoing elective surgery that would prevent their deployment.
Troops also are prohibited from "sexual contact of any kind" with Iraqi nationals under Cucolo's orders. And, they cannot spend the night with a member of the opposite sex, unless married or expressly permitted to do so.