The US Army confirmed last Monday that it investigated the photos of soldiers posing in uniform while wearing bondage gear and dog masks.
The photos, which emerged on social media, show male soldiers in uniform wearing dog masks, leather, and chains. Some of the photos also depicted poses featuring submission and sexual acts. Another showed a soldier in combat fatigues wearing a dog mask while posing on an airfield.
According to an internal Pentagon email traffic, Army officials believe that some of the photos were taken at a base gym in Hawaii. The email traffic, which was released to USA Today by an unnamed source, includes concerns that the photos were “hyper politicized.”
In a statement last Monday, Army spokesman Major Jonathan Lewis confirmed that US Army Pacific was aware of the photos and the “incident is currently under investigation.” The military code of conduct prohibits an officer from disgracing himself or bringing dishonor to the military profession and uniform.
There is a range of possible punishments for violations. According to Don Christensen, the former chief prosecutor for the Air Force who leads the advocacy group Protect Our Defenders, if the soldiers are officers or from the enlisted ranks, the photos would likely violate Article 134 which governs fraternization.
The soldiers photographed in the dog masks while in uniform likely violated Article 133, Conduct Unbecoming an Officer. Even if an officer has retired, he could be brought back to active duty and court-martialed, Christensen told USA Today.
The officer could also be forced to retire at a lower rank, lowering his pension payments. The US Military tends to act swiftly to discipline troops whose conduct embarrasses their uniform.
In 2018, the US Marine Corps fired a Navy chaplain after he was caught on video engaging in sexual acts with a woman at a New Orleans pub.
In a statement last week, Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said the Army expects all soldiers “to uphold high standards of personal conduct and to avoid discrediting the service and the uniform both in person and across social media.”