“All’s fair in love and war,” the old cliché goes, but military personnel in the war zone of northern Iraq who express their love of one another through procreation had better watch their backs.

As first reported Dec. 18 in Stars and Stripes, Army Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo has issued an order prohibiting pregnancy for personnel — military and civilian — serving under his command in northern Iraq, including Mosul, Kirkuk and Tikrit. Those violating the policy, which went into effect Nov. 4, could face jail time and a court-martial. This would apply not only to the female soldier who got pregnant, but the male soldier who impregnated her. And the policy even applies to married couples who are serving together, meaning both husband and wife could face punishment for creating a life.

The reason for the ban is to keep as much of the personnel dedicated to the task at hand as possible. Typically, the Army’s policy is to remove a pregnant soldier from the combat zone within 24 days, according to Stars and Stripes.

In a Dec. 20 interview with BBC News, Cucolo defended his decision.

“I’ve got a mission to do, I’m given a finite number of soldiers with which to do it and I need every one of them,” he said.“So, I’m going to take every measure I can to keep them all strong, fit and with me for the 12 months we are in the combat zone.”

It is understandable that Cucolo wants to keep on task when it comes to completing his mission. But a professor of military law tells Stars and Stripes that the order is fraught with “a mare’s nest of legal, ethical and policy issues.”

Furthermore, making unborn babies a liability is not the answer. After all, the little ones are not the enemy in this conflict.