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September 22, 2004
DoD Targets World's Oldest Profession

According to the AP, the DoD has taken some new measures to deter US troops from seeking the services of prostitutes while stationed abroad. Of course, the article is written by the AP whose journalist (Pauline Jelinek) lacks a working vocabulary of military terms and customs, so its somewhat hard to understand precisely what is in the works.

U.S. troops stationed overseas could face a court martial for patronizing prostitutes under a new regulation drafted by the Pentagon.
The move is part of a Defense Department effort to lessen the possibility that troops will contribute to human trafficking in areas near their overseas bases by seeking the services of women forced into prostitution.
In recent years, "women and girls are being forced into prostitution for a clientele consisting largely of military services members, government contractors and international peacekeepers" in places like South Korea (news - web sites) and the Balkans, Rep. Christopher Smith (news, bio, voting record), R-N.J., said Tuesday at a Capitol Hill forum on Pentagon anti-trafficking efforts.
Defense officials have drafted an amendment to the manual on courts martial that would make it an offense for U.S. troops to use the services of prostitutes, said Charles Abell, a Pentagon undersecretary for personnel and readiness.

The article first mentions the troops may be court-martialed under a new "regulation" then later Jelinek mentions that defense officials have drafted an amendment to the "manual on courts martial." (Note to journalists: it is the Manual for Courts-Martial.) Jelinek has this process backward. First, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (federal law) must be amended and only then can the handbook be updated, but let's put the technicalities aside for the moment because theres more:

Officials also are developing a training program for troops and contractors, to be distributed in November. The program will explain trafficking, department policy on it and possible legal action against violators, Abell said in a written statement.
Additionally, the military is reviewing regulations and procedures for placing off-limits those businesses where such activities take place and working with Justice Department officials to tighten rules on contractor misconduct.
Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, commander of the 37,000 U.S. troops in South Korea, said another initiative started on the peninsula has been to "make on-base military life a more desirable experience, and attempt to diminish the seductive appeal of many of the less wholesome off-duty pursuits."
That effort includes offering expanded evening and weekend education programs, band concerts, late-night sports leagues and expanded chaplains' activities.

Let me get this out right away: I do not support human trafficking. That being said, it looks like the Pentagon is getting overly parental in this case. Ive traveled extensively in Korea, and the US bases there (except for the Army base in Seoul) are remote, located in the middle of rice paddies. The soldiers and airmen are always subjected to a curfew, which is usually midnight or earlier. The only entertainment for the troops are the bars and clubs that have sprung up outside the gates, and though prostitutes are probably employed in some of those establishments, its not overt. The actual trade is usually not sex for money; instead, the client buys an expensive nonalcoholic drink for the hostess of his choice in exchange for a few minutes of flirting.

When the local military base learns an establishment has actual prostitutes, it is quickly made off-limits to the troops, and since that eliminates the clientele, the bar or club closes its doors.

US military members have been and will continue to be prosecuted for prostitution for violating existing orders and regulations. What the Pentagon really wants to control is the behavior of contractors and US civilians employed by the military. Contractors and civilians are not subject to military curfews or military law, and local authorities have little interest in these cases.

The US military may have little to gain by pressing this issue as many Americans are only induced to work in such out-of-the-way places because of the social opportunities. So lets be realistic. Remote bases are miserable enough for our military, they shouldnt be made into a church camp as described by General LaPorte.

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Posted by Whiskey at September 22, 2004 5:43 AM

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