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Curfew, alcohol restrictions imposed on Okinawa airmen

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Recent incidents of misconduct prompted the 18th Wing to impose a strict curfew and to rectrict alcohol consumption for all airmen on Okinawa, Air Force officials said Tuesday.

Effective immediately, active-duty Air Force personnel are restricted to the base or their off-base residences from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., according to a Kadena news release.

Brig. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, 18th Wing commander, also ordered that alcohol consumption for all airmen is restricted to their homes.

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Drinking alcohol in local and base establishments is prohibited at all times, the order states. The order does not apply to civilians.

However, the sale of alcohol at all Kadena clubs and restaurants has been suspended for all customers, according to Kadena spokesman Ed Gulick.

Marine and Army officials said Tuesday that no restrictions were being contemplated for their personnel.

"We ask that our Soldiers do not seek off Kadena establishments that serve alcohol without having a plan to get home safely," said Chip Steitz, public affairs spokesman for the Army's 10th Support Group.

Although no specific incidents were mentioned in the Kadena order, a recent altercation at the Sunabe Seawall drew intense attention in the local media. Okinawa police took a   28-year-old Air Force captain into custody shortly after midnight Sept. 19 after he allegedly struck a police officer responding to a report that a drunken American was pounding on a taxi at the seawall, located near Kadena’s main gate. He remains in Japanese custody pending indictment, Japanese police said Tuesday.

"The decision for this period of reflection was based on the recent trends and not one particular incident," Gulick said.

"There have been 11 total DUIs at Kadena, seven of which are attributable to Air Force personnel in the last 30 days. Every recent incident of misconduct contributed to the commander's decision to implement the period of reflection."

He said the general's order came after unit commanders were directed to speak face-to-face with their airmen about alcohol related incidents.

"These 'stand-downs' took place last week," Gulick said. "Alcohol-related incidents did not cease as a result, which led to the commander instituting this policy."

“Maintaining and building a positive relationship with the host nation is paramount to our mission,” Wilsbach said in the three-page order. “The environment on Okinawa is such that any incident involving Airman misconduct in the local community has the potential to severely damage our relationship with local governments and the nation of Japan.”

Wilsbach said the measures during this “period of reflection” were temporary, but there was no indication how long they would remain in effect.

The order applies to all active-duty airmen temporarily or permanently serving on Okinawa. It also applies to Guard and Reserve airmen on active-duty status on Okinawa. It does not apply to Okinawa-based airmen on leave or on temporary duty outside Okinawa. It also does not apply to personnel staying at the Okuma Recreational Facility, officials said.

In June, Marine Lt. Gen. Terry Robling, the senior U.S. military commander on Okinawa, issued an order that placed a midnight-to-5 a.m. ban on all off-base bars for all servicemembers following a spate of alcohol-related incidents. That order remains in effect.

allend@pstripes.osd.mil

This story has been corrected from its original version. 

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