Aviano personnel barred from bars after spike in drunk-driving citations
November 9, 2004
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Bars that cater to American airmen in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region could be in for some long nights.
Brig. Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of the 31st Fighter Wing, has prohibited active-duty personnel from visiting all establishments whose primary business is serving alcohol until further notice.
He summed up what he called the “most horrible two weeks in the history of the wing,” in terms of DUIs by announcing some restrictions and threatening others.
Following six driving-under-the-influence citations in 10 days, Breedlove has placed the base in RESCON Delta. Under the Responsibility Condition incentive program, base personnel can get a day off if there aren’t any citations for 31 days. But when there are a heavy group of citations, the entire base suffers.
“Right now, I’m at wit’s end,” Breedlove told thousands of airmen gathered on the base’s sports complex. “But for the grace of God, we’ve not got car parts and body parts scattered all over northern Italy.”
He cited one instance where one airman who was drunk fled the scene of one accident only to cause another. Another airman still tested positive at a gate checkpoint even after hours of sleep following a bout of drinking the night before.
DUIs are not a new problem at Aviano or in many military communities in Europe. The rate at Aviano had lower for most of the year, with only 20 DUIs since January until the recent spate.
Breedlove, who took command in June, said he generally favors the carrot.
But he and his senior commanders are probably going to test their sticks now.
“There are a lot of very drastic measures considered,” he said. “I don’t want to go there.”
Such measures could include moving offenders from off-base housing back on base and taking away driving privileges during the remainder of their tour, instead of just a year’s suspension.
He urged airmen to watch out for each other, even if it’s not a popular thing to tell a friend he’s had too much to drink: “Have the guts to step up and do something about it.”