is okay to be a peeping Tom in the armed services, but not to be
naked. In fact, it is worse to be photographed naked than to be a
sexual predator. Nudity may result in discharge, sexual misconduct is
disciplined administratively, with a reduction in rank or forfeiture
Our armed services deserve a lot of
respect. They put their lives on the line for the rest of us.
Due to the war in Iraq, recruitment has
become very difficult and President Bush's announcement that he will
send additional troops to the area has not made it easier to enroll
In steps a savior: Michelle Manhart. (Video
She is an Air Force Drill Sergeant, who
trains airmen at Lackland Air Force Base, and she decided to undress
in the February issue of Playboy.
presence of an attractive drill sergeant could, of course, be a great
motivator and recruitment tool for the armed services, especially
since many soldiers appear to have a predilection for displaying
images of lightly clad women.
But that is not how the Air Force sees things.
"This staff sergeant's alleged action does not meet the high standards
we expect of our airmen, nor does it comply with the Air Force's core
values of integrity, service before self, and excellence in all we do.
It is not representative of the many thousands of outstanding airmen
who serve in the US Air Force today," Balladares, an Air Force
spokesman, read from a statement.
What Balladares didn't comment on is that no soldier has been kicked
off the force for reading Playboy. In fact, not so subtle hints
at what's waiting back home is considered a moral booster. The armed
services, through USO, regularly provide entertainers in skimpy
outfits, such as the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and J. Lo.
But having one of their own undressing is taking things too far.
According to BBC News, Ms. Manhart stated, "I didn't do anything wrong
so I didn't think it would be a major issue."
The US Air Force has a different opinion.
Ms. Manhart, who is married with two children, has been relieved of
her duties while the military investigates, officials said. That
investigation shouldn't take very long, considering that the six-page
spread in February's issue just hit newsstands this week.
And of course, having a drill sergeant posing nude, poses problems.
But what makes this situation even more challenging is that according
Associated Press, "More than 100 young women who expressed
interest in joining the military in the past year were preyed upon
sexually by their recruiters. Women were raped on recruiting office
couches, assaulted in government cars and groped en route to entrance
exams." And most recruiters found guilty of sexual misconduct were
disciplined administratively, facing a reduction in rank or forfeiture
of pay; military and civilian prosecutions are rare.
Of course, it is a double standard that men are allowed to freely
watch nude women in the military with no consequences, sexually
assault women, with only minor administrative consequences, yet when
one of their own drops her clothes she faces discharge. Two serving
women have posed nude in the past, both from the navy. One woman was
discharged another woman had already been honorably discharged before
her pictures appeared.
The reality is that if all the soldiers who read Playboy or
similar magazines would be discharged, there wouldn't be much of an
army left. So it is okay to be a peeping Tom in the armed services,
but not to be naked. In fact, in the armed services, sexual assault
may be treated more leniently than posing naked.
"The Air Force says go do something amazing, and I think I pretty much
did it," Michelle Manhart said.
The US Air Force clearly does not agree with Ms. Manhart.
M.D., is a former Vice President of Pfizer. He is the author of
The Whistleblower, Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman.
He also writes the daily
Dr. Peter Rost blog.