Fraternization: Non-commissioned Officer and U.s. Navy Regulations

FRATERNIZATION Key references: Article 134, UCMJ; U. S. NAVY REGULATIONS 1165 (applies to both Navy and Marine Corps); OPNAVINST 5370. 2C (applies only to Navy); Marine Corps Manual 1100. 4 (applies only to MC). Background: The U. S. Navy has historically relied upon custom and tradition to define the bounds of acceptable personal relationships among its members and unduly familiar relationships between officers and enlisted members have traditionally been contrary to Naval custom, because they undermine the respect for authority.

Definition: Generally, fraternization is an unduly familiar personal relationship between an officer member and an enlisted member that does not respect the difference in rank or grade. Relationships between officer members and between enlisted members that are prejudicial to good order and discipline or of a nature to bring discredit on the Naval service are unduly familiar and also constitute fraternization. Charging Fraternization:

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Article 134, UCMJ: The accused was a Commissioned or Warrant Officer; the accused fraternized with an enlisted member; the accused knew the person was an enlisted member; the fraternization violated the traditions and customs of the accused’s service; and the conduct was prejudicial to good order and discipline or was of a nature to bring discredit on the armed services. Although still a valid standard, its applicability is limited since it requires the accused to be an officer, the other person to be an enlisted member, and the conduct was prejudicial to good order and discipline of the service

OPNAVINST 5370. 2B (the preferred rule): Prohibits unduly familiar relationships between officer and enlisted personnel that do not respect the differences in grade or rank (nearly identical language as U. S. NAVY REGULATIONS 1165). It is also a General Order and punishable under Article 92, UCMJ. Relationships covered by this Instruction include unduly familiar relationships between officers and enlisted as well as among officers and enlisted whenever the relationship does not respect the differences in grade or rank.

Two different tests are applied, depending on rank of those involved: One Step Test: Relationship between officer and enlisted: If the relationship is found to be unduly familiar then it is fraternization. Such a relationship is presumed to be prejudicial to good order and discipline. This also applies to relationships between Chief Petty Officers and junior enlisted (E1-E6) within the same command and some specific positional relationships, e. . , recruiter and recruit, instructor and student. Marine Corps junior enlisted is considered to be E-1 to E-5, and a staff NCO to be a E-6. Two Step Test: In relationships between officers or between enlisted personnel fraternization requires an unduly familiar relationship and it must be prejudicial to good order and discipline or service discrediting (there is no presumption that it is prejudicial or service discrediting).

Examples of relationships that may be prejudicial to good order and discipline include: Dating, shared living accommodations, sexual relations, commercial solicitations, private business partnerships, gambling and borrowing money. Miscellaneous: The Instruction does not require a direct senior-subordinate supervisory relationship. A subsequent marriage does not excuse or mitigate any illegal conduct. The Instruction is gender neutral. Relationships with other service personnel: Navy personnel are subject to these rules regardless of the other person’s service affiliation or service rules.