Recent photographs have caused a stir regarding breastfeeding and military uniforms. The
pictures depicts moms breastfeeding babies while in military uniforms
and are considered "unbecoming" by critics. Article 133,
Conduct unbecoming an officer and gentlemanaddresses the issue of unbecoming conduct. Despite the term "gentlemen,"
Article 133 applies to men and women in military uniform. In order to
be convicted of unbecoming behavior, prosecution must demonstrate that
the defendant did (or failed to do) acts that constituted behavior unbecoming
of an officer. Generally speaking, unbecoming behavior is an act that
compromises the officer's standing as a gentleman.
Traditional unbecoming behavior includes cruelty, false statements, cheating
on a test, lawlessness and injustice. Military personnel are expected
to live up to high standards. Article 133 acknowledges the fact that not
everyone will live up to these standards all the time. However, critics
of the breastfeeding pictures say that the photos depict unbecoming actions.
In reality, breastfeeding does not cross this line. Why? As Active Duty
Servicemembers, the women in the photographs may meet the first criteria
of Article 133. However, breastfeeding is in no way comparable to lawlessness,
cruelty or cheating. Additionally, it is possible that the women in the
photographs are not actually on duty.
Their uniforms indicate that they could be non-commissioned officers as
well. Thus, Article 133 does not apply to the photographs. If the women's
chain of command prohibits them from take similar picture isn't he
future, the women would be in violation of Article 92, Failure to obey a lawful order – but only if they had similar pictures taken again. It is hard
to imagine why an Armed Forces commander would consider the pictures offense.
They do not violate Article 133 depict nothing more than mothers who are
also successful Active Duty Service members.
This is not legal advice. This opinion and analysis is aimed to inform
general public. It does not form an attorney-client relationship. For
legal advice, contact an attorney.