III MEF Commander cracks down hard; bans off-base drinking

Lt.Gen. Kenneth Glueck has banned all off-base drinking of active duty military on Okinawa, beginning immediately.

For Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, Commanding General of III Marine Expeditionary Force and Okinawa Area Coordinator, enough was enough.

A Friday night alcohol-fueled off-base traffic accident involving one of his staff non-commissioned offer was the final straw in a rash of off-base incidents involving airmen, sailors and Marines in the country, causing the general to invoke a total ban on off-base drinking –or even possession of alcohol—by military personnel.  For the moment, the restriction does not apply to family members or civilian employees.

The single exception to the off-base drinking ruling is that service members may drink in their off-base quarters.  This does not apply to Navy personnel, however.  The admiral commanding Seventh Fleet banned drinking, even in quarters, between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Glueck’s ruling is far-reaching.  The sale of alcohol on U.S. military bases and installations is prohibited from 10 p.m. ~ 8 a.m.  AAFES shoppettes will not sell alcohol during those nighttime hours, and all on-base clubs are now required to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m.  The directive bans all alcohol sales, even to civilians.

The III MEF directive also states that “Service members are prohibited from executing off base/installation liberty when under the influence of alcohol. Under the influence is defined as meeting or exceeding .03% BAC. To enforce this, U.S. bases and installations will institute random breathalyzer checks for those leaving bases/installations after sunset for drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Drivers with a BAC meeting or exceeding .03% will not be allowed off base/installation and remain subject to existing traffic regulations. Passengers and pedestrians with a BAC meeting or exceeding .03% will be allowed off base only for the purpose of traveling directly to either their own off-base residence or to another military base/installation with no stops.

The Air Force this week also imposed restrictions requiring all airmen to have a “wingman” when drinking.  That “wingman” must be an adult service member or SOFA-status person who isn’t drinking.  The mandate by Air Force Lt. Gen. Sam Angelella, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, is now negated by the ban on off-base drinking.  Angellella had given individual bases authorization to establish interim rules, but the Saturday announcements indicate he and Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, the Okinawa Area Coordinator, are on track to bring to “zero” crimes and incidents by service personnel.

Angelella says the 11 p.m. ~ 5 a.m. curfew will remain in effect indefinitely.  He’s establishing a hotline for bar owners and other off-base businesses to call if they have American servicemen in their facilities in contravention of policies.

The incident that turned the military command to the new action involved a U.S. Marine, Staff Sergeant Nathan Sales, assigned to the Marines’ Camp Kinser in Urasoe City.  He’s charged with driving while slightly drunk on Friday evening.  Police say a vehicle Sales was driving rear-ended a passenger car halted at a traffic light in Kitanakagusuku Village near Camp Foster.

The with-injuries accident involved three cars.  A tip from a bystander brought police to the scene, where Sales was administered a blood-alcohol test.  Police say Sales’ level was double the limit.  The 35-year-old Sales denied first that he’d been drinking, but later admitted having drunk alcohol in his friend’s house. He is now admitting that he was under influence when the accident occurred.

The rape of a young Okinawa Girl in Okinawa City in the early hours of an October morning by two Navy sailors began the current spate of incidents.  That rape incident brought an 11 p.m. ~ 5 a.m. curfew, but still left GI’s with a large degree of freedom. That’s been followed in the past month by an airman getting drunk after curfew in a Yomitan bar, then going to the third floor of the building, going into an apartment and striking a teenage boy and damaging a television.

Days later, a sailor wandering around a Yokohama internet café naked drew an arrest, and then a U.S. Marine first lieutenant was busted in downtown Naha City after spending an evening after curfew drinking, then going to a fourth floor apartment, entering and going to sleep.  He was also arrested.  A driving while intoxicated Marine incident was also in the mix, as well as an apparently non-alcohol related incident where a young Marine was arrested trying to climb a drainpipe toward the roof of a building near Camp Courtney.  He told police he was going to the roof to practice doing back flips.

  • ewacloser

    If these knuckleheads don’t start acting responsibly, the next step could be a total “lock down”. It’s a shame that everyone has to pay the price for a few idiots.

    • Okinawa Resident

      They haven’t gotten the idea yet, what makes you think they will? I agree that it is too bad for those that are here enjoying what the island has to offer without causing problems. I’m surprised no one has blamed “doomsday” for their poor decision making yet.

  • disqus_Yb3cy3D1YO

    Agreed!!!

  • kotowaza

    It’s ok Japan Update, because when your dishonest journalism causes all US Forces to leave Okinawa, you will have no source of income. Bite the hand that feeds and see where it lands you.

  • Yamato

    For 66 years we’ve had these thugs on our island.

    • Roo

      I think you would rather have the US here than the Chinese!

    • da_truth_hurts4real

      I would like to think that I’m not a thug sir. Nor would I send thugs into your community.

      • Alcohol Prohibition :)

        Thug or not, rape is rape and whos to say a servicemen is any better than a thug provided that they are making asses out of themselves and the country we are supposed to be representing.

    • http://www.facebook.com/wu.moreland Wu Moreland

      Yamoto, nice stereotype. Classify all as thugs. You are a real stand up guy to post that comment. Shows real intelligence to stereotype! Great job!

    • japanupdate

      You’re posting from Florida. Stop trolling.

  • Marineswutrudoingstahp

    Leave it to staff ncos to lead the way for everyone else. Give that staff sergeant a beer. Oh wait…

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.himbele John Himbele

    The population of Japan on January 1st 2011 is approximately 127,218,889. 322,956 people were arrested or subject to police investigations for Penal Code offenses in 2010, not including violations of the Road Traffic Law, with 54 percent of involved in cases of theft. Thats 1 crime for every 393 persons per year. the crime rate for us military personel in japan is lower than 1 crime for every 7500 persons. remember these numbers and spread the word. the us military forces are getting a bad rap.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Kreuzer/100001175223769 Daniel Kreuzer

      you don’t get it do you dumb@ss! We are guests in a foreign country. All of us diplomats held to that higher level of behavior. Trying to spin it or rationalize away bad behavior just fuels the negative image we have in the eyes of the citizens of Okinawa!!

      • Guest

        I think what JH is saying is that people are people no matter where you are and we ARE doing better than the average Local; its just not broadcasted about like when an American messes up. There will always be those doorknobs in every society who cannot abide by civilized law, whether civilian or military. Not making excuse for them – just saying.

  • Marf

    Good thing I got away when I did. Don’t think I could have gone too long sober. Especially seeing how I generally ended up working ‘til 23 or so.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CajunH2O Ernest Molina

    So John I guess the rapes committed by visitors are ok huh? Look at historic facts. And yeah maybe there are more local crimes but guess what it’s their country. We are supposed to be a t a higher standard in service.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CajunH2O Ernest Molina

    Sorry but all the rapes and other incidents over the years are unacceptable. How would you like to have a young daughter gangraped by three servicemen? Live up to the oath and show some pride and dignity in that uniform.

  • Mystified

    I think what John Himbele is saying is that people are people no matter where you are and we ARE doing better than the average Local; its just not broadcasted about like when an American messes up. There will always be those doorknobs in every society who cannot abide by civilized law, whether civilian or military. Not making excuse for them – just saying.

  • a life time of friends

    I don’t understand why we’re all being held
    accountable because of a few idiots who have done horrible things and the loud
    and boisterous cries of a minority who happen to have most the control. The US
    is trying to ignore “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” signs but in Japan
    we keep giving them a voice and legitimacy. The people that hate us are going
    to be the ones to make decent people (who want to do great things, who want to
    be a part of the local community) out to be simple political stunts to spread
    WWII style propaganda. We can’t appease them, we give them what they want but
    it doesn’t change how they feel about us, I mean it’s already been stated
    before “66 years of these thugs” you’re blaming a whole community for
    the actions of a few. Why don’t you ask the orphanages who get support from the
    local bases how they feel about these “thugs.” The families who have
    come together in the last 60 some odd years, how they feel about their In-laws
    The adult communities who want our business at the bar, who like saying they have
    American friends. Where are the cries of our friends who want justice, but
    justice where justice is due? Please don’t look at us for the enemies we’ve
    made from a few unfortunate events, but from the many quiet and warm embraces
    of our friends, and families that we have in this beautiful country of so
    many wonders. Unforgivable things have been done, crimes have been committed,
    we cannot forget them, we cannot ignore them, but do not ask people who only
    want to be part of the community they weren’t born into and find a second
    family to make them happy and fill them with love when they can’t be home for
    the holidays to pay for these sins.

    • BlahJU

      Are you serious?! Use your brain for a second and stop being so self centered. You are not “being held accountable because of a few idiots”. The fact that you think you are shows you are not mature enough to be stationed overseas representing the US and its military. The only reason these policies are coming in to effect is to attempt to ease tensions with Japan. You are held to a higher standard over here. Grow up and stop whining about crap you obviously only have a very biased understanding of. Japan is bigger than a few bar owners on Gate 2 street.

      • a life time of friends

        I agree there is to large a concentration of US military on that tiny island, and that is probably a catalyst for there having been so many problems over the last few decades. What you need to realize is I’m no where near gate 2 street. I’m not even talking about Okinawa. How am I not being held accountable? I’ve been punished for a crime I had no way of stopping, on an island I’ve been to less than 3 times in the last 4 years. Where I live; I go 45mins north to a city we leveled to end a war 66 years ago, I meet a woman that has lived there her entire 22yr old life, she has no idea the base was even here, I later found out one of her friends was engaged to one of mine. Every year my base opens its gates to the country,and throws an air show to a growing audience of more than 250,000 Japanese citizens. I have friends that I have a tradition of going out to eat with, having a few laughs over a few drinks, then we go out to a couple of bars service members can’t find, now we need to completely change what we’ve enjoyed for the last couple years because something happened over 600 miles away. Tell me how this is easing tensions anywhere but in Okinawa. I understand I’m being held to a high standard, and I accept that every time I leave base, I accepted that when I volunteered to come out here, I accepted that when I volunteered to stay here a little bit longer. When someone says they need proof our commanders can control us, they pull on the choke chain for everyone one in the country, that’s holding everyone accountable for the actions of a few, but solving nothing. How can there be tension when a vast number of people I’ve met (granted not a majority of the country by any respect) don’t know I’m not a tourist even when I’m driving a base rental vehicle, and handing a JP my military ID and SOFA licence and putting them on the phone with a base translator, because a sweet old lady backed into my parked vehicle? You have already decided you don’t like me, you decided when you realized I am against this policy and to be honest my reasons are selfish, I am aware of this. I realize you can’t be argued with and to continue having an argument is useless and infantile. You’re response to this is going to be a bunch of childish and immature insults about me because you think you know me and I think it only goes to prove my point but you won’t even see how.

  • http://www.facebook.com/barspade Bar Spade

    ask Nick he will set you straight!!