Only one person in Europe has been punished for hiring a prostitute since a change was instituted a year ago that made the practice a specific offense for all Department of Defense personnel.

The offender was an Air Force staff sergeant assigned to the 725th Air Mobility Squadron at Morón Air Base, Spain. The airman received an Article 15 on April 12 for signing a false official statement and procuring a prostitute, according to U.S. Air Forces in Europe public affairs.

“The punishment consisted of a reduction to senior airman and a reprimand,” according to the statement.

The airman appears to be the only servicemember assigned in Europe who has been charged with the new violation. No soldiers or sailors in U.S. Army Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Europe, respectively, have been charged with patronizing prostitutes since the change was made, according to public affairs officers.

Maximum punishment includes dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for a year.

Even if prostitution is legal in the country where U.S. troops are stationed — as is the case in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands — troops can be found in violation of the code if they patronize a prostitute. While prostitution is illegal in Italy, laws against it are not heavily enforced by Italian authorities, particularly in southern Italy.

Prostitutes at two brothels about a five-minute walk from Pulaski Barracks in Kaiserslautern, Germany, were asked about troops’ recent behavior

“We have about 10 to 15 per day or more,” said one prostitute, who did not want to be named. “Only Americans.”

Another prostitute at a modern-looking brothel across the street said she is seeing fewer Americans than she did last year.

The change was enacted as part of an effort by the Defense Department to prevent human trafficking. In congressional testimony prior to the change, comments focused on problems in Asia.

The move to make “patronizing a prostitute” a Uniform Code of Military Justice violation was formalized last October by President Bush per executive order.

The section of the code dealing with patronizing a prostitute says the accused must have had sexual intercourse with someone other than the accused’s spouse, that it was wrongful and was of a nature to bring discredit on the armed forces.

“The accused compelled, induced, enticed or procured such person to engage in an act of sexual intercourse in exchange for money or other compensation,” the code states.

Stripes reporter Sandra Jontz contributed to this article.

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