Members of the U.S. Air Force stationed in South Korea have been banned from drinking for a weekend following a spate of dangerous alcohol-related incidents and disorderly conduct.
The ban, imposed by the 7th Air Force commander, Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, began at noon Friday and will end at 6 a.m. Monday, with the possibility of more restrictions if there are infractions.
Violators could face punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Stars and Stripes reported
"Over the past few months, the number of alcohol-related incidents resulting in serious injury reached the point where this action became necessary," Jouas wrote in an editorial in the Crimson Sky, the command newspaper.
"Simply put, the health and welfare of our airmen is too important to allow this trend to continue."
Jouas cited three near-fatalities, a number of arrests for assault or drunk and disorderly conduct, daily emergency-room admissions for excessive drinking, the impact of drinking on careers and relationships, and "most critically, the impact on our mission and readiness to fight tonight," as the justifications driving the ban.
According to command spokeswoman Maj. Richelle Dowdell, more than 100 personnel at the Osan base were treated in emergency rooms for alcohol-related incidents in the past year. Two airmen were medevaced to Seoul with extremely high blood-alcohol levels, according to Stars and Stripes.
"Hopefully this weekend's ban on drinking will get everyone's attention, both as a warning of the risk we face to our mission and our people, and the potential for future, more restrictive steps if we don't get this problem under control," Jouas said.
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