Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Guard Members Who Posed Nude Won’t Be Court-Martialed

Women in a Kentucky Army National Guard unit who posed nude for pictures with their rifles and other military equipment will not face court-martial. An Army spokesman in Iraq said that an investigation of the matter was closed with “non-judicial, administrative measures.” Maj. Jay Adams, chief of public affairs for the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), declined to elaborate on the sanctions, saying he was barred from releasing more information by the federal Privacy Act. Military law experts have said that administrative sanctions can include measures such as docking soldiers’ pay or confining them to barracks.The Courier-Journal reported on Sept. 28 that the Army was investigating whether women in the 410th Quartermaster Unit had brought discredit to the military by agreeing to be photographed in various states of undress with their M-16s and other equipment. The allegations were reported to the unit’s commander about a week to 10 days before the company shipped out for Iraq on Aug. 26 from Camp Shelby, Miss. The unit is based in Danville, Ky. The allegations were investigated by the regular Army because the unit already had been assigned to active duty. Lt. Col. Phil Miller, a spokesman for the Kentucky Guard, said that “as far as the leadership of the Kentucky National Guard is concerned, this incident is now closed, and the soldiers of 410th Quartermaster Unit can proceed with the mission they were mobilized to perform as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.”Adams said the investigation was conducted by commanders in Iraq and that the women were never suspended and were “busy supporting the war effort.” He declined to say how many soldiers were involved or release other details. Eleven of the 107 soldiers in the unit are women. The newspaper was provided a compact disc containing 232 photos of at least a half-dozen nude and semi-nude women in various poses, including kissing one another, posing suggestively with military rifles, and covering their breasts with American flag decals. One woman was photographed partially clad in a military uniform and a last name is visible on her blouse, but the Kentucky Guard wouldn’t confirm whether a woman with that name works in the unit.Authorities on military law had said that soldiers involved in such photographs could be prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for conduct prejudicial to good order, discrediting the service, or both, but the experts differed on the seriousness of the matter. One expert, Texas Tech law professor Calvin Lewis, a former military judge, predicted that such misconduct likely would be viewed as minor and be punished informally because commanders know “soldiers are often young and have bad judgment.”

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