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Stolen Valor Will Now Get You Up To A Year In The Slammer, And Other Major UCMJ Changes That Took Effect This Year
Domestic violence, recruiters having sex with recruits and committing adultery with someone of the same sex are now crimes in the military.
Congress passed its most sweeping reforms to the Uniform Code of Military Justice in decades in 2016, but it didn't take effect until Jan. 1 of this year. Other changes to the military process and offenses, such as domestic violence, were included in the recently passed 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.
Patricia Babb, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, said she is unaware of anyone who has already been charged with any new crimes so far this year because they're so new. She said the Navy has spent a lot of time educating its attorneys and other officers who can administer punishment about the updates. All new recruits also are taught about the UCMJ once they enter the service.
Here's a look at some of the new laws and how the military says they differ from previous practices.
Anyone who commits a violent offense against a spouse, an intimate partner, or an immediate family member of that person to threaten or intimidate them can now be punished at a court-martial, according to a Navy summary. Domestic violence is already punishable under state law in Virginia. Typically, state and military prosecutors will work together to decide where someone should be charged. But because the UCMJ is a federal law, there is nothing to stop a service member from being charged with crimes by both in unique circumstances.
Adultery has long been a crime in the military but it has been replaced with "extra-marital sexual conduct," according to the Army. The new offense broadens the definition of sexual intercourse, which now includes same-sex affairs. Previously, prosecutors had to prove traditional intercourse to obtain a conviction for adultery. Now oral sex and other activities are included.
Legal separation also is now a defense against the crime. Previously, service members could be charged with adultery even if they had been legally separated for years but were not divorced, the Army said.
Sex With Recruits
Recruiters, drill sergeants and others in "positions of special trust" convicted of abusing their authority over recruits or trainees now face stiffer penalties, the Army said. Those positions of trust include officers and non-commissioned officers, according to the Air Force.
The maximum sentence was increased from two years to five years of confinement for those in authority engaging in prohibited sexual activities with junior personnel, the Army said.
Credit Card Theft
The penalty for fraudulent use of credit cards, debit cards or other access devices to acquire anything of value has been increased to a maximum of 15 years confinement if the theft is over $1,000.
If the theft is under $1,000 the maximum penalty was increased from five to 10 years confinement, and this crime also includes exceeding one's authorization to use the access device, for example, misusing a Government Travel Card.
Cyberstalking is now included as a stalking offense, which encompasses a broad range of conduct that involves placing another person in fear for their safety, to include fear of sexual assault, the Army said.
The penalty for wearing unauthorized medals of valor has increased from 6 months to a maximum of one-year confinement along with forfeiture of pay and a bad-conduct discharge, the Army said. This includes wearing an unauthorized Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Purple Heart, or valor device. The maximum penalty for wearing any other unauthorized medal is still six months.
Anyone reporting a crime or a protected communication to authorities is protected from retaliation. An adverse personnel action for reprisal can get the person in authority up to three years confinement without pay and a dishonorable discharge, the Army said. The UCMJ also makes it a crime to retaliate against a person who plans to report a crime, according to Air Force summary.
The definition of consent has been clarified to reinforce that submission resulting from the use of force, threat of force, or placing another individual in fear does not constitute consent.
The definition of "sexual contact" was modified to apply only to specific areas of the body, rather than to touching any area with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, the Army said. The change to the definition clarifies the distinction between sexual harassment and sexual assault. Unless someone makes contact with designated areas of another person's body, it is not sexual assault, according to the Army.
The definition of burglary has changed to include breaking and entering any building or structure, anytime, with the intent to commit any offense under the UCMJ. In the past, burglary was limited to breaking and entering the home of another in the nighttime, the Army said.
©2019 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
While the U.S. military wants to keep roughly 8,600 troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban's deputy leader has just made clear that his group wants all U.S. service members to leave the country as part of any peace agreement.
"The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand," Sirajuddin Haqqani wrote in a story for the New York Times on Thursday.
In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.
Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.
Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"
The next day was different.
"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."
A video has emerged showing a U.S. military vehicle running a Russian armored truck off the road in Syria after it tried to pass an American convoy.
Questions still remain about the incident, to include when it occurred, though it appears to have taken place on a stretch of road near the Turkish border town of Qamishli, according to The War Zone.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
Survival expert and former Special Air Service commando Edward "Bear" Grylls made meme history for drinking his own urine to survive his TV show, Man vs. Wild. But the United States Air Force did Bear one better recently, when an Alaska-based airman peed in an office coffee maker.
While the circumstances of the bladder-based brew remain a mystery, the incident was written up in a newsletter written by the legal office of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on February 13, a base spokesman confirmed to Task & Purpose.