The Michelle Manhart Video: U.S. Air Force Recruitment Tool?

Our armed services deserve a lot of respect. They put their lives on the line for the rest of us.

Due to the war in Iraq, recruitment has become very difficult and President Bush’s announcement that he will send additional troops to the area has not made it easier to enroll new soldiers.

In steps a savior: Michelle Manhart.

She is an Air Force Drill Sergeant, who trains airmen at Lackland Air Force Base, and she decided to undress in the February issue of Playboy.

The presence of an attractive drill sergeant could, of course, be a great motivator and recruitment tool for the armed services, especially since many soldiers appear to have a predilection for displaying images of lightly clad women.

But that is not how the Air Force sees things.

"This staff sergeant’s alleged action does not meet the high standards we expect of our airmen, nor does it comply with the Air Force’s core values of integrity, service before self, and excellence in all we do. It is not representative of the many thousands of outstanding airmen who serve in the U.S. Air Force today," Balladares, an Air Force spokesman, read from a statement.

What Balladares didn’t comment on is that no soldier has been kicked off the force for reading Playboy. In fact, not so subtle hints at what’s waiting back home is considered a moral booster. The armed services, through USO, regularly provide entertainers in skimpy outfits, such as the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and J. Lo.

But having one of their own undressing is taking things too far.

According to BBC News, Ms. Manhart stated, "I didn’t do anything wrong so I didn’t think it would be a major issue."

The U.S Air Force has a different opinion.

Ms. Manhart, who is married with two children, has been relieved of her duties while the military investigates, officials said. That investigation shouldn’t take very long, considering that the six-page spread in February’s issue just hit newsstands this week.

And of course, having a drill sergeant posing nude, poses problems. But what makes this situation even more challenging is that according to Associated Press, "More than 100 young women who expressed interest in joining the military in the past year were preyed upon sexually by their recruiters. Women were raped on recruiting office couches, assaulted in government cars and groped en route to entrance exams." [1] And most recruiters found guilty of sexual misconduct were disciplined administratively, facing a reduction in rank or forfeiture of pay; military and civilian prosecutions are rare.

Of course, it is a double standard that men are allowed to freely watch nude women in the military with no consequences, sexually assault women, with only minor administrative consequences, yet when one of their own drops her clothes she faces discharge. Two serving women have posed nude in the past, both from the navy. One woman was discharged another woman had already been honorably discharged before her pictures appeared.

Reality is that if all the soldiers who read Playboy or similar magazines would be discharged, there wouldn’t be much of an army left. So it is okay to be a peeping Tom in the armed services, but not to be naked. In fact, in the armed services, sexual assault may be treated more leniently than posing naked.

"The Air Force says go do something amazing, and I think I pretty much did it," Michelle Manhart said.

The U.S. Air Force clearly does not agree with Ms. Manhart.