Don't be surprised if "Here Comes the Bride" is a popular tune on Army bases next year. Officers and enlisted soldiers who began dating before March 1 have one year to pop the question or else split up, a new Army fraternization policy stipulates.
As of March 2, the Army's new "Good Order and Discipline Policy" prohibits romance between the ranks unless a relationship already existed prior to March 1. In such cases, couples have until March 1, 2000 to marry or break up.
Other restrictions on personal relationships between soldiers of different ranks are included in the policy, a revision of Army Regulation 600-20. Under the old policy, business relationships were allowed, but now private business deals such as loans or long-term business partnerships are restricted. Small deals like selling a car or renting a home are acceptable under the new policy.
Last July, Secretary of Defense William Cohen ordered that good order and discipline policies among the DoD agencies be standardized. Military officials want to ensure that policies among service agencies are uniform and fair because joint operations are increasingly common in DoD, Rudy de Leon, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said last year. The new Army policy also applies to relationships between Army members and service members in other branches.
The policy also restricts:
- Relationships between soldiers already in the ranks and initial-entry trainees.
- Romances between recruiters and potential recruits.
- Relationships between officers and enlisted soldiers on active-duty tours or in full-time Guard or Reserve positions.