Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, known for his own use of colorful language to inspire the troops, said a new Pentagon policy targeting offensive language and behavior should not be interpreted as a draconian end to military camaraderie.

“You have to adapt to your times,” Mattis said. “There’s a rough, good humor among soldiers. We all know that. But I have never seen rough good humor countenance or in any way frame something that’s disgusting, repellent or something like that.”

On Thursday the Pentagon released Department of Defense Instruction 1020.03, “Harassment Prevention and Response in the Armed Forces.” The 23-page instruction sets a common framework to guide each of the services’ policies to prevent all types of harassment, ranging from offensive jokes to sexual harassment.

DoD released a new harassment policy Thursday, Feb. 8, which Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said was in part to get the military's unique brand of humor to adapt to the times.
DoD released a new harassment policy Thursday, Feb. 8, which Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said was in part to get the military's unique brand of humor to adapt to the times.

According to the instruction, “harassment may include offensive jokes, epithets, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs,” as well as physical threats or racially-tinged interactions that “creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.”

“I don’t want to lose all sense of humor in the military,” Mattis said. “But I have never seen an ounce of belief in the military that you can denigrate someone.”

The services and DoD components are required to provide their implementation plans in the next 60 days, Pentagon Press Secretary Dana White said.

“We are doing this because we owe our all-volunteer force every protection,” White said.