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PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — The Army at Camp Humphreys has issued new guidelines on when civilians may eat at military chow halls in Area III.

Civilians may buy meals at the dining halls at Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Army birthday celebration, and when taking part in meals served as part of an Area III ethnic observance, such as Hispanic Heritage Month or Pacific Islander Heritage month, said Clarence F. Slawson, deputy to the Area III commander.

The policy applies to a total of six Area III dining facilities at camps Humphreys, Long, Eagle, and at a U.S. Army dining hall at Suwon Air Base, a South Korean air force installation at which some U.S. troops are stationed.

The new policy’s most immediate effects are on the 200 or so civilians who used the chow halls daily, said David Duffie, Area III food program manager.

Before the new policy was issued, some members of the Area III community had voiced concern that so many civilians were using the military chow halls that it was cutting down on the amount and variety of dishes left for active-duty troops waiting in the chow line.

Area III commander Col. Michael J. Taliento Jr. signed the memo last week and it took effect immediately, Slawson said.

The policy revises an earlier version that was seen as too vague on when civilians could eat at the dining halls. Apart from the section that covers civilians, the memo’s content is largely the same as that of the earlier policy, Slawson said.

“It’s more prescriptive,” Slawson said. “It identifies each category of personnel that may be allowed to subsist or purchase meals in the dining facility. Whereas the previous memo was very vague, it did not detail the different categories or prescribe the different rules for each category of people,” he said.

Some civilians however, will be allowed to buy dining hall meals on a virtually “full-time basis,” Slawson said.

They are civilians on food handler duty in the dining halls, and those government employees assigned to South Korea during wartime or a similar “contingency” operation such as those currently under way in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But Slawson noted no such contingency operations are currently under way in South Korea.

“In Iraq or Afghanistan, that is a contingency operation … contingency operations are not existing in Korea at this time,” he said.

Exceptions to the new policy must be requested in writing and granted by the Area III commander, Slawson said.

With the issuance of the new policy, most civilians’ on-post eating choices now shift to commercial establishments, Duffie said.

The rules are set forth in the “Area III Support Activity Policy Memorandum #35, Use of Area III Appropriated Fund Dining Facilities by Other Than Enlisted Personnel Receiving Subsistence in Kind.”

Officials plan to post it in the near future on the Area III Web site (http://area3.korea.army.mil), Slawson said.

List of civilians eligible on ‘an occasional basis’

Civilians eligible to eat in the dining halls “on an occasional basis” — for the holiday and other special meals:

Defense Department civilians who work on the installationsMilitary retireesMembers of youth groups like the Boy Scouts or Girl ScoutsEntertainment groups like those that visit the installation as part of a concert tour for servicemembersCivilian dignitariesGuests of military personnel who are themselves authorized to eat in the dining hallsIn addition, the Area III commander may give permission to dining hall employees to invite family members to buy the “traditional holiday meals,” says the memo signed by Area III commander Col. Michael J. Taliento Jr.

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