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Love and the Marine Corps

By Lance Cpl. Timothy M. Courtney | Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort | February 1, 2017

Valentine’s Day is almost here, but before you send flowers to that Marine who has caught your eye, let’s take a moment to review the Marine Corps policy on fraternization.
Unduly familiar relationships between seniors and subordinates are contrary to military custom as they undermine respect for authority and erode the good order and discipline that is essential to the service’s ability to accomplish its mission. Being in a direct senior-subordinate supervisory relationship or in the same chain of command is not a prerequisite for fraternization. Each relationship must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis unless a relationship is per se prohibited, such as in the case of a SNCOIC and his or her junior Marine.
A relationship is prejudicial to good order and discipline when it results in circumstances which: call into question the senior service member’s objectivity; result in actual or apparent preferential treatment; undermine the authority of the senior member; or compromise the chain of command and/or the mission.
The focus of the fraternization policy is on the detriment to good order and discipline. Marines that were in a relationship that constituted fraternization cannot cure the fraternization by marrying. The responsibility for avoiding fraternization rests primarily with the senior service member in the relationship. However, both service members are accountable for their own conduct and both may be dealt with administratively or with disciplinary means.

What Not to Do:
After a command sponsored BBQ, a Lieutenant Colonel invited a Second Lieutenant and several other subordinates to a "staff call" at a local hotel where they all drank together at the bar. Through the course of the night, the Lieutenant Colonel and the Second Lieutenant danced, drank, and socialized without regard to the rank difference. The two ended up in the same room at the end of the night where they had sexual intercourse. The Lieutenant Colonel pled guilty to multiple charges at a General Court-Martial that resulted in a punitive discharge from the Army.