A HQDA memorandum for DCSPER (HQDA Ltr 600-84-2), dated 23 Nov 84, subject
"Fraternization and Regulatory Policy Regarding Relationships Between Members of
Different Ranks," explained:
"When the senior member has direct command or supervisory authority over
the lower ranking member or has the capacity to influence personnel or
disciplinary actions, assignments, or other benefits or privileges, there
is the strongest justification for exercising restraint on social,
At the same time, when the senior does
not have direct command or supervisory authority over or the capacity to
relationships between soldiers are not inherently improper.
should advise service members, however, that even these relationships can
This regulatory prohibition is not limited to officer-enlisted relationships.
It applies to "service members of different ranks." This includes officers, NCOs,
DOES THE REGULATORY
THE APPEARANCE THEREOF IS ALSO CONSIDERED TO BE IMPROPER.
DIFFERENTLY, WE DON'T HAVE TO WAIT FOR DISASTER TO STRIKE; RATHER, WE CAN
ACT TO AVERT IT.
THE RELATIONSHIP CAN BE DEALT WITH WHEN IT CAN
"REASONABLY BE EXPECTED TO UNDERMINE DISCIPLINE AUTHORITY OR MORALE."
Known as the "Elton Letter," the guidance
form HQDA DSCPER refers to "an
actual or clearly predictable adverse impact
upon discipline, authority, or
An adverse action "must address the
behavior that results form the
relationship, or the actual or clearly predictable
results of the relationship, and
not merely the relationship itself."
DO SOME RELATIONSHIPS HAVE A GREATER POTENTIAL FOR ABUSE THAN OTHERS?
RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN THOSE IN THE RATING CHAIN ARE AN EXAMPLE.
The Army policy "is one of tolerance," and not a per se prohibition.
is to watch for "the possibility for exploitation and favoritism."
The Elton letter set out various factual situations
application of the Army's policy. A few are as follows:
LTC X, A SINGLE MALE BATTALION COMMANDER, IDENTIFIED 2LT Y, A JUNIOR
SINGLE FEMALE ON HIS STAFF, AS AN UP AND COMING OFFICER. HE TOOK PAINS
TO INDIVIDUALLY COUNSEL HER ON HER CAREER PROGRESSION, ASSIGNED HER
SEPARATE SIGNIFICANT TASKS, AND ADVISED HER RATER THAT