Misawa commander tightens base liberty policy
Stars and Stripes August 7, 2009
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — In a new liberty card program following what Misawa’s commander has called a wave of "alcohol-fueled stupidity," newcomers will have to go through an indoctrination or screening before they can step off base after midnight.
Effective July 27, all airmen arriving here for their first assignment in the military — those coming straight from basic military training or technical schools — are issued a red liberty card until they finish about two weeks of base indoctrination, according to the policy enacted by Col. David Stilwell.
The red liberty card means they aren’t allowed off-base liberty between midnight and 5 a.m. daily.
And everyone arriving at the base, regardless of rank, will be screened for previously documented alcohol-related incidents or other misconduct. Those who fall under that category also will be issued a red liberty card until a commander can determine the person doesn’t pose a liberty risk.
The only military members exempted are U.S. sailors, who must follow their own service’s regulations, according to the memorandum on the policy.
Navy officials were unable to immediately explain their liberty program here late Wednesday.
Commanders are also authorized the sole discretion to downgrade a card from green to red at any time if the person’s "conduct presents an unacceptable security, operational, legal or diplomatic risk to the United States, on- or off-duty," according to the memorandum.
"The system isn’t to punish anyone," 35th Fighter Wing spokesman 2nd Lt. Jeff Nagan said Tuesday.
"It’s to secure the safety and security of airmen."
The change comes after a series of alcohol-related incidents involving Misawa personnel.
One of the incidents Stilwell addressed in a July 17 radio program to caution troops to get a handle on the situation was a July 12 crash involving a 19-year-old airman.
Japanese police said a new twist emerged in the case.
Initially, police suspected the airman was driving under the influence of alcohol after a vehicle hit an off-base house.
It was later discovered that another servicemember — a 19-year-old woman who does not have a license — was driving, a police spokesman said Tuesday.
Charges against the two — for allowing an unlicensed driver to drive and for driving without a license — have been forwarded to the prosecutor’s office.
Stars and Stripes Hana Kusumoto contributed to this story.