U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella, U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force commander, answers questions from airmen during a luncheon at Kadena Air Base, Japan last year. The general recently relaxed the off-base drinking policy. (Airman 1st Class Tara A. Williamson / Air Force)
Airmen stationed on Okinawa can now have a couple of drinks with dinner off base, according to new guidance for troops issued by U.S. Forces Japan.
A May 29 memo issued by Air Force Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella, USFJ commander, renews a universal, slightly more relaxed liberty policy for troops throughout Japan while keeping tight drinking restrictions mostly in place on the island of Okinawa, home to Kadena Air Base.
The policy reiterates a midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew for troops in ranks E-5 and below, barring troops in those grades from walking the streets off base if not on public business.
Between 9 p.m. and midnight, airmenoff base for pleasure must travel with a “liberty buddy,” who may be a family member, fellow service member or Defense Department civilian employee. Troops off base on business after the midnight curfew must also travel with a buddy.
For military personnel outside of Okinawa, alcohol regulations are limited to a ban on off-installation drinking — with the exception of personal residences — from midnight to 5 a.m.
On the island, however, rules will become only slightly less stringent. Troops are limited to two alcoholic drinks at off-installation restaurants between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., unless specifically authorized by a general or flag officer for official events.
While USFJ rescinded a 0.03 percent blood-alcohol limit for troops traveling off installation, and authorized consumption aboard base, the memo warns “individuals are expected to exercise common sense and a due regard for safety.”
A series of violent incidents, culminating in the rape of an Okinawan woman by two sailors last October, prompted Angelella to impose a sweeping 11 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew on all troops and to implement training in sexual-assault prevention, cultural indoctrination and “core values”— requirements that still remain in effect.
The Air Force and Army eventually lifted their curfew regulations on troops in ranks E-6 and above, and all services except for the Marine Corps eased a universal off-installation drinking ban.
Air Force Lt. Col. Dave Hochul, a spokesman for USFJ, said Angelella adjusted the universal liberty policy after consulting with military leaders across Japan “to retain existing liberty measures while addressing some quality-of-life concerns for our forces.”
According to personnel end-strength numbers tallied in December, there were 56,463 U.S. troops and dependents stationed in Japan.
That number includes 12,528 airmen, 19,295 sailors, 18,408 Marines, 2,461 soldiers and 3,771 military dependents.