CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — Dongducheon bar and restaurant owners met 2nd Infantry Division officials recently to complain about an alcohol ban imposed on troops during a training exercise this month.

U.S. soldiers — and the Korean Augmentees to the U.S. Army who work with them — have been banned from drinking alcohol from Aug. 12 through Sept. 3, according to a report in The Morning Calm, the military’s newspaper in South Korea.

Second ID public affairs spokesman Maj. Karl Ivey said Casey Garrison Commander Lt. Col. Terry D. Hodges, his staff and the 2nd ID provost marshal, Maj. David J. Segalla, met members of the Korean Special Tourist Association (KSTA) before the ban was imposed.

“They discussed the reasons for which an alcohol consumption restriction was a prudent decision for the division during the ordered timeframe, and additionally shared these reasons during the meeting. We ensured that the KSTA understood that it is our duty to honor and enforce the order,” Ivey wrote in an e-mail.

According to Hodges, both parties walked away from the meeting understanding each other’s position, and KSTA leaders agreed to place the 2nd ID order banning soldiers from drinking during the exercise at the entrance of entertainment establishments, Ivey said.

The policy that bans soldiers from drinking states: “Consumption of alcoholic beverages is inconsistent with the readiness that U.S. Forces must maintain when deployed to defend our national interests, and it is equally inconsistent with effective, realistic training.”

Dongducheon KSTA chief Park Young-ho said the Aug. 11 meeting with the U.S. officials was to discuss rules relating to bars and restaurants catering to U.S. soldiers near Camp Casey and to get to know Hodges, who recently took command.

The KSTA members’ concerns focused on the alcohol ban, he said.

“This measure leads a huge economic loss to off-post bar districts, other restaurants and entertainment facilities catering to the U.S. soldiers,” Park said.

There are about 49 bars and 60 restaurants and facilities clustered in Bosandong, referred to as “the Ville” by Camp Casey soldiers. About 30 percent of the economy in Dongducheon city depends on the U.S. soldiers, Park said.

Bar owners were still hurting from last year’s slowdown in business after about 4,000 soldiers from 2nd ID’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team deployed to Iraq and they may not be able to survive the alcohol ban, he said.

“It is a fatal blow to us,” he added.

Bar owners considered asking 2nd ID to shorten the period of the alcohol ban but decided against making such a request, he said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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