Are you guilty of fraternization or have you ever been guilty of fraternization and avoided being caught? Questioned in public, most Sailors will answer in the negative. Among friends, however, many of these same Sailors will admit having fraternized and will justify their actions using the “blind spots.” The two most notable blind spots of fraternization are the disregard for shifts of power between officers and chiefs and the misbelief that transitioning from enlisted to officer transpires seamlessly. The clout of a chief petty officer should not be overlooked, nor should the unrealistic expectation that Sailors transitioning from enlisted to commissioned service will leave their friendships behind.
For years I have observed Sailors walk the tightrope of fraternization. Some chose to maintain discipline, while others went with their hearts or temptation. Even with lessons learned from numerous Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) fraternization cases to inform it, the fraternization policy is still plagued by the blind spots of its design.