Ethical Issues in the Military


Adultery has become a persistent problem that exists and affects the entire military. It is estimated that 50-60% of military couples seek professional help to solve adultery-related problems, which is way above the estimated 15% of civilians who have reported the same problem. The problem sweeps across the entire forces because the top leadership is also affected with various military commanders being involved in fidelity scandals. While military officers cheat on their spouses for various reasons, separation from the spouses is the root cause of this problem. Military officers usually stay away from their spouses for a long time because of deployments, trainings, and other work-related duties. These separations prevent officers from satisfying their sexual needs forcing them to find alternative partners while they are away. Adultery has had a serious impact on the military, especially by tainting the image of the forces. Many members of the public have been led into believing that the military has been affected by immorality. Adultery has also made the forces lose many officers because they are fired for contravening section 134 of the UCMJ. To solve the problem of adultery in the military, the forces should reduce the length of time that officers spend away from their spouses. 


Cases of military officers exhibiting bad behavior make headlines in the media every now and then. While the citizenry expects the military to embrace the culture of responsibility and accountability, this has hardly been seen. As a result, people have always questioned the health of the nation’s armed forces. Ethical issues in the military have continued to be witnessed despite the fact that military officers are usually put on a continuous training to shape their character. In fact, background checks are usually conducted before officers are selected to join the force. This is usually done to ensure that the forces only recruit individuals who uphold high moral standards. However, despite taking such measures, ethical issues continue to exist in the military. To examine ethical issues in the military, this paper narrows down to examine the problem of adultery in the military. To do this effectively, the paper explores the root cause of adultery in the military, its impact on the forces and suggests ways of correcting the root cause. 


The Problem of Adultery in the Military

Adultery has proven to be a persistent problem faced by the military, even though it is prohibited in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The US military puts a lot of emphasis on eliminating adultery in the forces because it taints its image. In the US, the military constitutes about 1% of the country’s population yet it is the most affected by the problem of infidelity (Whitley, 2009). It is estimated that 50-60% of the military couples in the US seek assistance on infidelity-related issues (Whitley, 2009). These rates are too high given that only 15% of the civilian couples seek the same assistance (Whitley, 2009). It should also be noted that the percentage of military couples who seek marital therapy accounts for only those who admit that they are affected by infidelity. Therefore, the percentage of military couples who are affected by adultery could surpass the 50-60% of those who seek help (Whitley, 2009). 

The problem of infidelity in the military affects the top leadership as well. Top military leaders, such as General John Allen and General David Petraeus, have made headlines for all the bad reasons as far as the problem of infidelity in the military is concerned (Stone, 2011). Such leaders have been accused of being philanderers because their extramarital affairs have come to be known to the public. For this reason, members of the public continue to raise concerns about the immorality that exists in the military. The public has even gone further to question the kind of leadership that the forces have. The leadership is expected to lead by example in promoting morality in the forces yet it is also affected by immorality. Given that the top leadership is affected by infidelity, it becomes hard to put in place measures to ensure that discipline prevails in the military.

Many military officers have also been accused of not being committed to the marriage because they seem to get into the union for bad reasons. While many people take time to find compatible partners to spend the rest of their lives with, some military officers tend to rush to get partners (Stone, 2011). Usually, the Armed Forces have special benefits for married military officers, which many single officers do not want to miss. For this reason, some of them rush into marriage because they do not want to miss special benefits that married military officers are entitled to. Military officers who get into marriage for such reasons do not necessarily see companions in their spouses but rather take them as accessories. Such officers end up engaging in adultery because most of the time there is lack of love between them and their spouses. Most of such marriages end when officers finally leave the military.

The Root Cause of Adultery in the Military

Infidelity in the military has largely been blamed on deployment (Stone, 2011). It is believed that being away from families and spouses is the root cause of the widespread problem of infidelity in the armed forces. Many a time military officers have been separated from their families so that they can attend to their duties. This separation usually comes when military officers are deployed or sent on temporary assignments. The same may also happen when officers are sent to attend trainings. The officers are usually forced to part with their families and/or spouses because of the nature of their work. In most cases, military officers work in hard conditions and therefore their families and spouses cannot accompany them. While these separations are necessary, sometimes they take too long.

Since military officers tend to be separated from their spouses for long periods, they may end up becoming lonely. It should be noted that one of the main reasons why people get into marriage is because they want to avoid being alone. People always make the decision to settle down in marriage because of the need to have a companion. However, for military officers marriage may not entirely solve the problem of being alone because of constant trainings and deployments. When military officers are separated from their spouses, they begin to feel alone. Consequently, they resort to finding people who can keep them occupied at least until their assignments are over. The spouses who are left behind may also be forced to do the same. This may lead into a cycle of infidelity, where each partner will continue to seek sexual satisfaction elsewhere whenever they are not with their partners.

It should also be noted that most of the military officers, who are usually deployed to fight, are young. Older officers are usually relatively fewer with most of them holding higher ranks. Most of young officers are not experienced in marriage-related issues. In fact, most of them get into marriage much earlier compared to civilians who wait until they are established in their careers. For this reason, most of young officers are not usually mature enough to get into marriage, which calls for a lot of patience from partners. The fact is that most of the military officers, who are usually deployed overseas, further compound the problem of infidelity in the military. Young adults are more sexually active compared to seniors. Therefore, they need to be close to their spouses so that they can constantly satisfy their sexual needs. Separating them from their spouses forces them to seek for sexual partners other than their spouses, an act that constitutes adultery. 

The Impact That Adultery Has On the Military

The problem of adultery, which has been affecting the military for many years, has come with a great deal of impacts. While the public has always commended the military for defending the country, the image of the military as far as morality issues are concerned has deteriorated. The situation has been made worse by the reported cases involving some of the top leaders in the forces. For this reason, the level of trust and respect that civilians had for the military has dropped significantly. As much as the military does an excellent job in defending the country, adultery in the forces has tainted its image. The public now holds a perception that that immorality dominates through the entire forces, from the top leadership to junior officers. As long as this perception persists among members of the public, military officers who are not married, will continue to have hard time to find partners when they decide to get married. 

The Armed Forces has lost many military officers because of adultery incidences. This loss of military officers has been felt in all levels of the forces. Adulterous affairs are among the major reasons that have led many military officers to lose their jobs. Military officers are the most affected with records showing that about 30% of military leaders have been fired in the last ten years for adultery and other sex-related scandals (Eyler, 2009). Generals Petraeus is an example of military leaders whose careers have come to the end because of infidelity issue (Maurer, 2015). Officers holding lower ranks have equally been affected, if not more so. When the military is forced to fire some of its officers because of adultery it losses greatly because all the resources used to train these officers would have gone to waste. As officers continue to be fired because of adultery, the forces lose some of the best military officers.

The widespread adultery in the military has led to the creation of new rules as the struggle against the problem continues. The rules have been created in a bid to instill discipline in the military. The rules limit personal liberties and privacy rights of military officers. Therefore, military officers are usually watched closely to ensure that they do not engage in adultery and other immoral activities. Article 134 of the UCMJ prohibits the adultery in the disciplined forces (Maurer, 2015). Consequently, military officers, who have gone against this law, have been subjected to disciplinary action. Such rules and laws were created with the aim of reducing adultery in the military. However, the laws and rules do not only reduce the problem but also lead to the dismissal of military officers with some of them being charged in court.

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Recommendation to Correct the Root Cause

Efforts that have been put by the military in recent years demonstrate that the forces are determined to wipe out the problem. The military has tried several measures including making it illegal for military officers to engage in adultery. The measures that have been taken to contain the problem of adultery in the forces have registered mixed results because some of them have been successful to some extend while others have failed. This notwithstanding, efforts to eliminate infidelity in the forces should continue until a lasting solution is arrived at. However, all the parties involved in solving the problem should keep in mind the root cause of adultery in the military. While various reasons have been established to be contributors to the incidences of infidelity being reported in the military, separation from spouses is the major cause of infidelity. Punishing philanderers in the forces does not solve the problem but rather makes adulterous military officers engage in extramarital affairs secretly (Hillman, 2009).

There is no doubt that long periods of separation from spouses lead many military officers to engage in adultery. When deployment and training take too long, officers are usually prevented from satisfying their sexual needs. Therefore, the problem can be addressed by ensuring that military officers do not stay away from their spouses for too long. Military officers are usually deployed every now and then to serve overseas. Such deployments should be shortened by recalling deployed officers and replacing them with other officers on a regular basis. It should be noted that some military operations, especially overseas, take a long time to the extent that military officers who are involved begin to feel lonely. Allowing officers to take regular breaks to take care of sexual needs will reduce chances of them being deprived to the extent that they are forced to seek sexual satisfaction with other partners while away on duty.

Military officers attending training may also be forced to live in camps. Sometimes, training takes a long time, during which they stay away from their spouses. This might force them to find other partners so that their sexual needs can be satisfied. It is therefore necessary for military training camps to have residential facilities or to be located in areas, where accommodation facilities are available so that military officers can be close to their spouses, even when they are on training. It should be noted that conditions in training camps are not usually as bad as those being faced by military officers who have been deployed to fight in the battlefield (Hillman, 2009). Therefore, military officers on training can attend to other matters alongside military training because sometimes it is not necessary to keep them in military camps throughout.


Over the years, the military has struggled with ethical issues with adultery being one of the most pronounced problems. Cases of military officers cheating on their spouses or their spouses cheating on them have been widely reported in the military. This problem cuts across the entire forces because military commanders are affected just as much. The problem is believed to originate from the long periods that military officers are forced to stay away from their spouses while attending to their duties. Sometimes officers are separated from their spouses for a very long time to the extent they are forced to seek other partners to satisfy their sexual needs. Infidelity in the military causes the forces to lose some of their competent officers who are fired because of engaging in adultery. These incidences also taint the image of the forces. To reduce cases of infidelity in the forces, the length of time that officers spend away from their spouses should be reduced as much as possible.

Jul 10, 2019 in Socioligy
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