Major General Discusses Ban on Pregnancy in Iraq

Army Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo

Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo, Commander of the Multi-National Division-North in Iraq (Photo courtesy of Ft. Stewart)

“I’ve got 22,000 incredible soldiers that are absolutely fantastic young Americans and I am counting on them to do the right thing,” Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo, Commander of the Multi-National Division-North in Iraq said.”The message to my female soldiers is that I need you for the duration.”

“I can’t tell you how valuable my female soldiers are,” he said. “They fly helicopters. They run satellites. They’re mechanics. They’re medics. Some of the best intelligence analysts I have happen to be female. You start losing them when you’re facing a drawdown, and you really hurt the unit.”

Cucolo discussed the policy that bans soldiers from becoming pregnant while on duty in Iraq on a phone interview today. This policy falls under the Command’s General Order No. 1 and he said he was prompted by his experience as Division Commander with the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. and his intense desire to maintain fighting strength any way possible for a very tough and complex mission.

He said the purpose of this rule is to cause soldiers to pause and think about the decisions they make and how a personal decision has major consequences, like leaving their teammates shorthanded in combat, not the consequence of punishment. He also said that he believes he can handle violations of this aspect with lesser degrees of punishment and has not considered court marshalling.

“I don’t ever see myself putting a soldier in jail for this.”

He shared that the process includes a letter of reprimand to the unit and a soldier is given an opportunity to submit a rebuttal on reasons why the letter should be filed locally. After that is done the chain of command recommends where the letter should be filed and in most cases it will not remain in their permanent military files.

Pregnant soldiers are immediately redeployed out of combat zones to bases where they can get comprehensive medical care.

Seven soldiers have been reprimanded under the new ban. The four female soldiers who became pregnant were given letters of reprimand that will not remain in their permanent military file as were two of the male soldiers. A third soldier who is married received a permanent letter of reprimand for impregnating a subordinate who is not his wife and fraternization. The four female soldiers were all reassigned outside of Iraq and the three men remained.

There were also four other female soldiers who were sent home without punishment, after finding out they were pregnant shortly after arriving in Iraq.

“In this 22,000 soldier task force I need every soldier I’ve got, anyone who leaves the fight earlier than expected creates a burden on their team mates.”

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