Some troops in Iraq get OK for beer during Super Bowl
By JAMES WARDEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 21, 2008
BAGHDAD — Baghdad-based sports fans have one more reason to look forward to this season’s Super Bowl.
Multi-National Division–Baghdad has received permission to let its units enjoy an honest-to-goodness beer on game day instead of the near-beer soldiers usually quaff in downrange DFACs. The approval comes with plenty of time for the beer to be shipped into theater.
General Order No. 1 has banned U.S. forces from drinking alcohol in Iraq since troops deployed to the Middle East. There has been at least one previous instance in which units could drink in Iraq, but it is not known exactly how many times this has been done in the past.
This Super Bowl will be a strictly controlled exception to the long-standing policy. Exact procedures have not been developed. But troops will be limited to two drinks, and the beer will be consumed in the dining facility where soldiers can watch the game.
MND–B stressed that it is always on duty and vigilant, and that it never relaxes its posture. But some soldiers still worried about how the beer would affect readiness.
Spc. Stephen Anctil — a scout with 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment — said he wouldn’t drink. The policy is fine for support units on the large bases, but combat arms unit can get called out anytime, he said. Two beers can also have a noticeable effect after so long without drinking.
"After midtour leave, even after two beers, I was more than comfortable," said Anctil, who’s based at the old Iraqi Ministry of Defense compound.
Sgt. 1st Class Donald Milam, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, said the beer was unnecessary because soldiers have become used to socializing without alcohol. The deployment has allowed many to step back and re-evaluate whether drinking is a good habit.
"As an institution, we’re probably a lot more sober than we’ve been for 100 years," he said.
Most soldiers were thrilled about the prospect of enjoying a cold one with the game. Spc. Chris Davis, a soldier with the 300th Military Police Company, was looking forward to the feeling of normalcy that would come from having a beer while watching the NFL title game. Two beers is just the right amount because it won’t get you drunk, he said.
"You can relax more," Davis said. "You can just relax with your comrades. Usually, we’re so stressed out not being able to do the stuff we get to do back in the States."