To know fraternization is to avoid it
Fraternization is the term used by the US Army to refer to the specific criminal offense regarding
relationships between service members of different ranks. As a criminal offense, fraternization is dealt
with in Article 134 of the Manual for Courts-Martial.
All military personnel should become familiar with AR 600-20, Army Command Policy, and
Article 134 as these deal with avoidance of personal relationships when the senior individual in that
relationship has direct command or supervisory authority over or the capacity to influence personnel or
disciplinary actions, assignments, or other benefits or privileges of the lower ranking individual.
The basis for the policy against fraternization is the maintenance of "good order and discipline"
which is considered essential to the effectiveness of a fighting force.
Fraternization occurs when a higher ranking enlisted officer, commissioned or warrant officer
knowingly has contact or a relationship with an enlisted person on terms of military equality in some
manner which violates the custom of military service. Generally, the officer and not the enlisted person
is charged with the offense, but fraternization can be detrimental to the careers of all individuals
Obviously, not all association and contact between officers and enlisted personnel is an offense.
But several factors are to be considered: whether the conduct has compromised the chain of command,
resulted in appearance of partiality, or otherwise undermined good order, discipline, authority or morale.
Contacts and associations are of particular concern when the senior individual has direct
command or supervisory authority over the lower ranking individual or has the capacity to influence
personnel or disciplinary actions, assignments, or other benefits or privileges of a lower ranking
Specifically, personal relationships to be avoided between members of different rank within the
same chain of command or supervision include: