Marines loosen liberty restrictions for some Pacific-based servicemembers
By CARLOS M. VAZQUEZ II | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 27, 2018
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Just in time for the holidays, the lowest-ranking Marines across Japan, Australia and Hawaii are getting an extra hour of off-base liberty, along with other loosened restrictions.
Evening curfew for those ranked sergeant and below has been revised from midnight to 1 a.m., according to a Nov. 19 memo from Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, commander of III Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Forces Japan.
Smith has also relaxed the requirement that those Marines have liberty partners when they leave their bases, unless they intend to consume alcohol.
The new policy is organizing Marines into three tiers — from tier one, which imposes the least restrictions on off-base liberty and alcohol consumption, to tier three, which allows neither off-base liberty nor alcohol consumption on or off-base.
Another change allows newly arriving Marines and sailors in Japan tier-one liberty without a minimum wait time of 30 days in their commands based upon their performance and an initial assessment.
“It should perk up morale,” Cpl. Jacob Budds, of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, told Stars and Stripes on Monday. “It’s a rule of thumb to have a liberty buddy, but some Marines get in trouble even with a buddy. So, I think that giving them an extra hour to get back on base when they may have been out drinking would be good.”
In some instances, Budds said, leadership requires troops at Iwakuni to file a weekend-activities plan so their supervisors can help guide their choices for spending their time off base.
According to the memo and a III MEF spokesperson, the III MEF liberty policy is being revised to reflect Smith’s memo and more changes are to come.
Stars and Stripes correspondent James Bolinger contributed to this report.