February 1, 2010  

Pregnant pause

TO MAJ. GEN. ANTHONY CUCOLO for his well-intentioned but poorly thought-out directive to court-martial any soldier in his command who gets pregnant or who impregnates a fellow soldier. Not surprisingly, Cucolo was forced to rescind his directive within days of issuing it. A little more pre-consideration — perhaps also floating the idea up the chain of command — would have saved the general from the predictable outcry of women’s rights’ advocates, politicians and every other civilian who leaped on the opportunity to show why they know better how to run a wartime command (Cucolo is commander of 3rd Infantry Division, currently deployed in Northern Iraq.) Cucolo’s concerns are not wrong: A soldier who leaves the fight early because of a personal choice that changed their medical status creates a burden on their teammates and, as Cucolo said, is not keeping with a key element of the soldier’s ethos. But it’s hard to see why the general could not have handled this issue internally, on a case-by-case basis and with far greater leadership deftness.