US Military Needs To Implement Mandatory Alcohol Classes

by: Mike Miller

Drugs and alcohol do not have a place in war zones. Don’t you agree?

As a kid I remember young guys in my neighborhood coming back from Vietnam talking about how stoned on marijuana they were all the time. They even referred to some guys who lost their lives because they were too messed up to be in the field.

War is scary enough without getting your mind and body messed up with drugs and alcohol.

Afghanistan Massacre

Nearly every combat outpost in Afghanistan is automatically part of a volatile mix: a hardened enemy, increasingly sophisticated and deadly land mines, nervous young soldiers, powerful weapons and machinery, suicide bombers, the stress of multiple deployments, searing heat, unfriendly locals, unfamiliar languages. This as reported in the New York Times.

Do you think adding alcohol to this mix is smart? The US Army does not think so and I agree.

But now, with the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians, alcohol has been suggested as a possible causal factor in the killings.

The military’s General Order No. 1 prohibits the possession or consumption of alcohol in five countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan. It has been reported that thousands of empty non-alcoholic beer cans litter the area around US camps in these countries.

Still, alcohol finds its way onto bases and outposts, either passed from soldiers from other countries, smuggled in from local markets or delivered in care packages from home. Sometimes the alcohol is disguised as mouthwash — usually gin or vodka doctored with blue-green food coloring.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a 38-year-old father of two who had been wounded twice in combat over the course of four deployments was identified as the shooter in the massacre and it has been reported that Sergeant Bales had been drinking alcohol before the killings.

One effort has begun recently to curb alcohol consumption ion the military. The U.S. Navy announced two weeks ago that it will soon start giving Breathalyzer tests to some sailors as they arrive for work aboard ships.

A pilot Breathalyzer program in the Navy in submarine units had yielded a 45 percent decrease in alcohol-related incidents. I am not sure what the answer is, but we do not need our soldiers intoxicated. Could a drink or two when they are off-duty be OK. I would think so. I think the military should mandate alcohol classes for all servicemen overseas and offer them substance abuse counseling as well.