Demoralizing Military Moralism

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WASHINGTON: The resignation of Maj. Gen. John Longhouser, the commander of the Aberdeen Proving Grounds who admitted to having an adulterous affair with a civilian, has raised the question of whether the military has gone too far in its zealous attempt to root out infidelity in its ranks. Longhouser, whose decision to step down came after the Pentagon received an anonymous tip regarding a past liaison, is the second high-ranking military officer to fall in the last week under scrutiny over allegations of questionable behavior. Defense Secretary William Cohen was put on the spot today to shed light on whether the military's investigations are impairing the armed forces. "(They're) not sapping the military of its capability or strength," he said. "We insist on very high standards, we expect the highest of standards from our military leaders and they fully understand that." TIME's Mark Thompson reports that while the probes may not be damaging the effectiveness of the services, they are clearly hurting morale, particularly in situations in which highly decorated veterans such as Longhouser are left no choice but to resign. "It's not weakening militarily, but it's plainly demoralizing. In the case of Longhouser, there's a sense of demoralization because here's a guy who did 32 years of solid service for his country and this situation is all that he will be remembered for."