Andersen officials: Drinking ban result of recent assaults
ANDERSEN AIR BASE, Guam — The order barring servicemembers from drinking on or off base for 72 hours starting Friday was triggered in part by two March 31 alcohol-related sexual assaults, officials said Tuesday.
Details of the assaults, which are under investigation, were unavailable but Col. Stephen Wolborsky, 36th Wing vice commander who issued the order, said they occurred as commanders already were considering more measures to curb alcohol-related problems.
He said the assaults coincidentally followed a command meeting about disciplinary issues that included “a fairly lengthy discussion about alcohol abuse.” Wolborsky said after consulting with staff members and Col. Michael Boera, wing commander, “we decided that in addition to our other measures, now is a time to … have a short hiatus on drinking.”
The order bans consuming alcohol from 6 a.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Monday.
Calling it a “bold but I believe positive and proactive step,” Wolborsky predicted an immediate reduction in the number of alcohol-related crimes and incidents. But, he said, the broader goals of the initiative, dubbed “Find the Fun,” are “to reflect on the importance of being mission-ready 24 hours a day” and to adopt healthy recreational activities not involving alcohol.
An April 14 base newspaper report announcing the order said “a number of alcohol-related incidents have recently occurred on Andersen at an alarming rate that have been connected with a number of sexual assaults, domestic violence and other offenses.”
Wolborsky said he had no specific figures but maintained that “there is no crime wave on Andersen.” He said he believes the number of alcohol-related incidents is not “out of the norm.”
“Ninety-nine-percent-plus of our people on the installation,” with a population of about 8,500, “are absolutely solid citizens. … But there’s a small percentage that tend to get in trouble. And … alcohol tends to factor into that to a fairly significant degree.”
Two Andersen tenant commands — Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 and 734th Air Mobility Squadron — also are taking part in the ban. Family members and civilian employees have been asked to refrain voluntarily from consuming alcohol.
The order does not prohibit selling or buying alcohol during the ban, nor does it restrict movement on or off base.
The primary enforcement tool will be relying on the integrity of personnel, Wolborsky said, “but in addition we’re going to increase our command presence … where people congregate in the dormitories and other areas.”
Units also will sponsor a variety of activities over the weekend including a version of the television show “The Amazing Race,” treasure hunts, boonie stomps, scuba diving and sports activities.
Wolborsky said he’ll meet after the initiative with leaders and others who want to attend. “I’m going to open that floor up,” he said, “and I will be standing up front by myself unarmed and unafraid to hear the feedback.”
Do any of these describe you?
With a 72-hour no-drinking order in effect for Andersen Air Force Base starting 6 a.m. Friday, some people might need a little help in complying.
Staff Sgt. Anthony Ard, noncommissioned officer in charge of the base’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program (ADAPT), is reminding airmen to keep an eye on each other because some might have a drinking problem and not recognize it.
He said the following warning signs might suggest a problem with alcohol misuse:
Sweating for no apparent reason.Can’t rid your mind of the thought of alcohol.Hands and body are shaking for no apparent reason.Contemplating hurting your career for the taste of a beer.Rationalizing a glass of wine with dinner as a means to have alcohol in your system.You’ve already started to figure out ways to obtain alcohol during the drinking ban.“If anyone experiences any of these symptoms, they may have a problem with alcohol,” said Ard.
ADAPT will have a booth set up outside the shoppette from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Friday for free alcohol screenings.
“No records are required,” Ard said in a base newspaper announcing the drinking ban. “We’ll be there to educate people.”
ADAPT also is available at DSN 366-8217 for screenings.
— Frank Whitman