Some Atsugi units requiring ‘liberty plans’ from sailors
November 8, 2006
NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan — Cornilus Burr can “write” his liberty plan in two minutes flat. His weekends don’t change much.
“I’m in church on Friday and Sunday in Yokosuka, in school on Saturday or hanging out with friends,” Burr, a petty officer second class at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, said Monday. “I can print my plan off the computer in two minutes.”
It takes Seaman Theresa Johnson about 10 minutes, she said, but it’s time well spent.
“I think it works — I think it’s keeping people out of trouble,” Johnson said.
While not officially mandated at NAF Atsugi, liberty plans are a part of gearing up for the weekend for many sailors ranked E-5 and below, said Command Master Chief Chris Justice.
A liberty plan is a “tracking tool” to monitor sailor behavior and is intended to prevent incidents out in town, he said. Atsugi has been discussing liberty plans since 2004, but more units on base have been requiring them in recent years, Justice said.
“It’s just a smart thing to do, and it’s safer for the sailor,” Justice said.
Sailors write down what they’ll be doing Friday through Sunday then turn the plan over to their chain of command. If the plan includes drinking alcohol off base, leadership will likely ask such questions as “Who is your liberty buddy?” and “Who is driving? How are you getting home from the bar, etc.” Justice said.
Changes can be made but require a phone call to the chief petty officer or on-duty leadership, Justice said.
“If your plan says you’re going to be watching NFL in the barracks and you decide to go to Roppongi, you make a phone call,” Justice said. “Having that interaction is a way to be accountable.”
Liberty plans are just one way to do this, said Justice, adding that junior sailors also have liberty buddy requirements and good behavior is emphasized in area orientation briefs, television announcements and through leadership mentoring.
The base also has an alcohol-related incidents prevention council that strategizes different ways to reduce the number of problems, said Atsugi spokesman Brian Naranjo.
“No one purposely sets out to get in trouble,” Naranjo said. “But one incident is too many, especially in the forward-deployed naval forces. These are all tools to reduce that potential.”
According to Naranjo, the emphasis appears to be working as Atsugi has gone 66 days without a drinking-and-driving violation. Justice added that he believes alcohol-related incidents have decreased overall due to education and more “intrusive leadership.”
While Petty Officer 2nd Class Antonio Javier’s unit does not do liberty plans, his leadership does Friday announcements about weekend Morale Welfare and Recreation activities, plus warnings about alcohol, he said. “They tell us if we’re drinking to plan accordingly and encourage [us] to take advantage of the MWR activities” Javier said. “I’m pretty busy at school right now, but I find the information helpful.”
While some liberty planning aspects are positive, others are not, Burr said. “It’s good to know where people are,” Burr said. “But it’s also an invasion of privacy.”