Dozens of GIs in Bosnia Pregnant: Army Bans Booze, Doesn't Curb Sex

By Gertz, Bill | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 18, 1996 | Go to article overview

Dozens of GIs in Bosnia Pregnant: Army Bans Booze, Doesn't Curb Sex


Gertz, Bill, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


As many as 70 U.S. soldiers in Bosnia have become pregnant since Operation Joint Endeavor began in December, representing nearly 5 percent of the women deployed as part of the peacekeeping mission, according to the Pentagon.

Between 60 and 70 Army soldiers were sent back to their home bases in Germany "due to medical profiles associated with becoming pregnant during the deployment," Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Rick Scott said.

The women were declared medically unfit for service in Bosnia because the heavy special equipment harness worn by all troops poses a risk to the pregnant soldiers' health, he said.

Analysts said the pregnancies highlight the problems of women's deployability and the often-negative impact on morale in mixing men and women during military operations.

"The services have acknowledged that, at any given time, 10 percent of their women might be pregnant," said Robert L. Maginnis, a retired Army lieutenant colonel now with the Family Research Council. "As a planning factor, you have to just count them out, you don't deploy them and that has a significant impact on readiness."

The problem can be compounded if the women sent home after becoming pregnant have special skills that are difficult to replace, he said.

Although officials are unwilling to say so, many times pregnancy is used by soldiers as a basis of getting out of unpleasant duty, Mr. Maginnis said.

"It's an easy out," he said. "It's not comfortable sitting in the mud, being bored, being hungry. All they would need to do is find someone, get pregnant and go back home."

Rep. Robert K. Dornan, California Republican and chairman of the House National Security subcommittee on personnel, said he would hold hearings on the issue of pregnancies in Bosnia in September.

"If the military is saying there were 60 to 70, then it is probably closer to 100," Mr. Dornan said. "I will get to the bottom of this. And they had better not be advising these women to get abortions."

According to military statistics, about 1,500 soldiers, or 9 percent, of the 17,100 U.S. troops currently deployed in Bosnia are women. The 60 to 70 pregnant soldiers account for 4 percent to 4.6 percent of the total women soldiers.

During the 1991 Persian Gulf war, 5.1 percent of all military women deployed during the war became pregnant, according to a Pentagon report. The report said 19,268 military personnel became pregnant out of a total deployment of 375,127 soldiers.

According to recent census figures, the overall U.S. pregnancy rate is 10.9 percent for women of child-bearing age.

Jim Boyle, an Army spokesman in Europe, said the pregnancy rate among soldiers in Bosnia is comparable to normal rates throughout the Army and therefore is not a concern. "If it's in line with the overall statistics, it isn't viewed as something of alarm," he said in an interview. …

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