Tucker: Education just one part of self-discipline plan
December 21, 2009
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CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — Education is not the only initiative the commander of the 2nd Infantry Division is trying to introduce in South Korea.
Maj. Gen. Michael Tucker said he is confident his superiors will sign off on proposals he has made to lift the curfew, lower the drinking age to 19 and eliminate rules on blood-alcohol limitations for all servicemembers on the peninsula.
“I will just tell you I am optimistic, and I am accepting risk,” Tucker said. “But behind risk lies opportunity.”
Tucker said he has presented his ideas to U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Walter Sharp and 8th Army commander Lt. Gen. Joseph Fil, and he has a committee of 14 people continuing to work on details of his multi-faceted plan aimed at instilling self-discipline in soldiers he said now spend too much of their off-duty time drinking to excess and getting into trouble.
Tucker said he plans to go back to his superiors in the near future with more information about what it would take to put his proposals in place.
“I’m not asking for carte blanche; I’m asking for a [six-month] trial period,” he said. “If it happens, it will probably happen pretty soon after the beginning of the year.”
A spokesman for Sharp declined comment on the proposals and any possible timetables for decisions.
Starting next month, 2nd Infantry Division soldiers across South Korea who sign up for newly available, afternoon college courses will be dismissed from duty early two days a week to accommodate class attendance under the new Warrior University program, developed by the new division commander.
Tucker said he hopes the student-soldier program is the first of several steps U.S. military leaders on the peninsula take to make soldiers more responsible for themselves and their actions, including changing the curfew, drinking age and blood-alcohol regulations.
At present, USFK personnel are subject to a 3 to 5 a.m. curfew on weekends and a midnight to 5 a.m. curfew on weeknights. The drinking age for servicemembers is 21, while the drinking age in South Korea is 19. Servicemembers can be tested at any time and are not allowed to register a blood-alcohol content more than 0.10. Under Tucker’s proposal, servicemembers still would have to obey the laws of South Korea when it comes to driving.
“[We] have a huge alcohol-related and discipline problem,” Tucker said. “What we’re currently doing now is not working well for us, despite our best efforts. Problems with soldiers usually occur off duty, and the root cause of most of the problems is a lack of self-discipline.
“I think this generation, if you treat them as adults, if you give them responsibility, then they will be responsible. You can’t put the chain of command downtown with them 24/7, 365. It’s not going to happen. … So you have to build programs that instill and build self-discipline.”