Marines to double time spent on training newcomers
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Marines’ newcomer briefings will double in length starting Tuesday.
New arrivals will get a full day’s discussion on cultural awareness, the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement and the importance of being goodwill ambassadors.
The twice-weekly orientation previously was a four-hour presentation.
Marine officials expanded the mandatory orientation in the aftermath of a two-week reflection period imposed after several high-profile incidents in which servicemembers on Okinawa were accused of crimes, including two alleged rapes.
The order restricted people living on Okinawa under the Status of Forces Agreement to the base or their off-base homes.
The order was later lifted and replaced with a curfew requiring active-duty servicemembers to be in their homes from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Active-duty servicemembers also are banned from drinking alcohol at off-base locations.
Newcomers at a seminar Wednesday were told the discussion marked the last time the four-hour format would be used.
Individual topics for the Newcomers Orientation Welcome Abroad Seminar will increase from 15-minute to 30-minute presentations.
Presenters Wednesday said it was unfortunate the recent events prompted the change, and stressed the importance of being responsible visitors.
New servicemembers E-5 and below on unaccompanied tours attend the seminar on Tuesdays; and all SOFA members on accompanied tours, and E-6 and above unaccompanied members attend the seminar on Wednesdays.
Marine Lt. Gen. Richard Zilmer, the senior U.S. general on Okinawa, will open the new orientations via a video recording to inform newcomers of their responsibilities and expectations of appropriate behavior while living on Okinawa, according to a press release.
Senior officers, including chiefs of staff and generals, are expected to rotate delivering the closing address at seminars, giving newcomers a chance to meet top-ranking officials in person.