FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A new policy is currently being considered by the Department of Defense that would assign rank to spouses of military members.
The controversial measure announced yesterday is meant to address disputes and complaints. Problems would be handled between spouses instead of a dependents' chain of command.
With a system of rank would also come legal doctrine — The Civilian Code of Spousal Justice — to mirror the military's existing Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The policy discussion comes after a high-profile incident in which a Marine wife was not saluted as she entered her husband's base, as well as a series of surveys conducted throughout the military to determine major issues plaguing the force. Many commanders described frustrating encounters with military spouses on "an almost daily basis."
Some of the survey findings were startling, showing commanders finding it increasingly difficult to mediate issues between military spouses. With troop drawdowns and lack of manpower, polls show a force dealing with problems on the homefront even more than military combat.
One survey returned from a Marine platoon commander at Camp Pendleton expressed anger at what he called "dependopotamouses."
"I can't handle this anymore. I'm supposed to be a Sniper Platoon Commander, not some lovey dovey, let's be friends, kumbaya, sit around the camp-fire playing acoustic guitar freak," said 1st Lt. Nathan Morris. "Shit, no wonder my Scout Snipers are out of control, their spouses drive them insane."
A company commander with the Army's 25th Infantry Division told a similar story.
"No shit, there I was, surrounded on all fronts. There had to be at least 25 of em','" recalled Capt. Eric Jones. "Hollering their war cries of demands for higher BAH and less field time for their husbands."
After establishing a focus group of twenty field grade officers, the idea of assigning military spouses' rank was brought up by Maj. Alex Steen.
"This is a wonderful idea," Steen said. "Many spouses already seem to act like they wear their sponsors' rank, so why not just give it to them? This will allow spouses to pull rank when necessary so as to put out of line spouses in their respective place."
The DoD has proposed ranks be assigned to dependents of sponsors in pay-grades of E-1 through E-9. The spousal rank would also be equivalent to the sponsors' rank to avoid instances of "pulling rank" on the military sponsor.
Spouse ranks would begin with S-1 (Spouse Recruit) and ascend to S-9 (Chief Master Spouse).
"If only this had been done sooner," said Ellen Trump, wife of Sgt. Maj. John Trump. "One time I was sitting outside of the PX when this -- this Lance Corporal's wife, tattoo sleeves and all, walks by with her two kids. Doesn't stop. Doesn't give the proper greeting of the day. I've been married to the Marine Corps for over twenty years! I think she needs to learn who her betters are!"
The new Civilian Code of Spousal Justice will include Articles pertaining to Insubordination, Assaulting or willfully disobeying superior ranked spouses, and Malingering so as to grant authority to the prospective ranks.
The Pentagon has not yet confirmed or denied the possibility of assigning rank to the spouses of officers.