NATO Follies

Commander bars troops from hookers, alcohol during NATO summit

• May 9, 2012 5:52 pm


The commander of the U.S. Northern Command this week directed all military personnel assigned to security duties at the NATO summit in Chicago to refrain from soliciting prostitutes or drinking alcoholic beverages, according to a copy of the orders.

Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, the Northcom commander, stated in a May 6 memo that troops in Chicago during the summit that begins May 20 will not "solicit prostitutes or engage in conduct which is unprofessional or unbecoming of a member of the armed forces."

One military officer called the restrictions "an overreaction to recent Secret Service misconduct in Colombia."

Northern Command spokesman Bill Lewis had no immediate comment on the memo.

The order follows the sex scandal involving 11 U.S. Secret Service agents and 12 U.S. Southern Command military personnel linked to the use of prostitutes while working as security agents for the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena last month.

The Northcom orders for NATO summit security personnel stated that consumption of alcohol by troops is prohibited unless a colonel approves an exception for a "special social event."

Proper uniforms or appropriate civilian attire must be worn while on duty, and off-duty garments that must not be worn in public include ripped or torn clothes, garments "displaying profanity, nudity, illegal drug-related pictures or words," as well as a ban on clothes with a "racial, sexual or ethnic slogans or words."

Government and rental vehicles also can only be used for official travel, unless approved by a commander.

Jacoby stated in a cover memo to the orders that in addition to providing security for the summit, "the reputation and hospitality of our country and our armed forces will be on display for the world."

"It is incumbent on all of you to perform your duties to the best of your ability and to represent your country and service in the best possible manner," the two generals said. "In a very real sense, the eyes of the country and world will be on you. I am confident you will keep faith with your fellow service members and not let the team or the country down."

The memo was co-signed by Army Brig. Gen. Robert Pratt, commander of the Joint Task Force Summit under the Illinois National Guard. An Illinois National Guard spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Security personnel for the NATO summit will also take part in the summit of the G-8 countries’ leaders at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland on May 18 and May 19.

Then on May 20 NATO leaders will hold a major meeting in Chicago, where the main topic will be the U.S.-led military operation in Afghanistan.

About 10,000 people will take part in the summit, including 7,000 delegates and 3,000 journalists.

The U.S. Secret Service is in overall charge of security for the summit. NATO, the State Department, the FBI, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Chicago police are also involved.

It could not be learned how many military personnel are deployed for the summit. But it is believed that at least several hundred military and defense officials will be there and covered by the Northcom order. President Obama will attend the meeting, the first held in a U.S. city other than Washington.

Security in Chicago during the summit is expected to be tight in anticipation of large-scale demonstrations by anti-war protesters. Chicago police and federal law enforcement authorities are working with the military in coordinating security measures.

There are also concerns that terrorists will try to disrupt the meeting or carry out terrorist attacks.

The general order No. 1 for troops working with the Joint Task Force Summit outlined what it said were "standards of conduct."

"The NATO summit is a significant event in the development and sustainment of our national security policy," Jacoby said.

"NATO is the United States’ longest standing and most trusted alliance."

The purpose of the order is to identify conduct that undermines "good order and discipline."

Commanders were ordered to provide clear mechanisms for defense and military personnel that will provide accountability and a well-defined chain of command. All those at the summit must "be accountable to each other and conduct themselves in an honorable manner."

The order specifically states that violations of the standards of conduct will result in possible prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Commanders must relay the orders to all Joint Task Force Summit members and emphasize that they are to be follow "both on and off duty."

Sen. Carl Levin told reporters this week that military personnel working at the Cartagena summit did not act properly in contacting the chain of command about the decision to allow the 12 military personnel involved in the sexual liaisons to remain in Colombia as Obama began his visit.

"Whether that was a correct or incorrect decision will be the subject perhaps of discussion," Levin said, according to the Washington Post.

The 11 Secret Service employees linked to the scandal, by contrast to the military personnel, were sent home immediately after the incident became known to supervisors.

The Southern Command has completed its investigation into the affair and is considering disciplinary action. The command is in charge of U.S. military activities in the Latin and South America.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a speech at Fort Benning, Ga., last week that "a series of troubling incidents" had focused on the need for better conduct.

"I need every one of you, every one of you and all of your fellow service members to always display the strongest character, the greatest discipline and the utmost integrity in everything you do," Panetta said.