FAIRBANKS — The U.S. Army in Alaska will ban alcohol in barracks across the state, including at Fort Wainwright, effective Feb. 15.
U.S. Army Alaska commanding general Major Gen. Michael Garrett announced the new policy in a letter published this week in the official military newspaper, the Alaska Post.
The Army adopted the ban to reduce disciplinary problems associated with alcohol and their consequences, such as the alcohol-related shooting that killed an Anchorage soldier Christmas morning, he said.
“Arctic Warriors, we have a problem with good order and discipline in our barracks, and it’s our responsibility to fix it,” Garrett stated in the letter. “I don’t believe alcohol is to blame for every case of indiscipline that occurs in the barracks, but alcohol is often a major contributing factor.”
The new policy affects single-soldier housing and surrounding common areas at both Anchorage’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks.
“Though this may not be a popular policy, I expect every soldier to comply with it and every leader to enforce it,” Garrett said.
The policy does not extend to family housing at the Army bases, Army spokesman Bill Coppernoll said.
In addition to banning alcohol in barracks, Garrett introduced related policies, including increased enforcement on both Army posts and more “courtesy patrols.”
Courtesy patrols at community “hot spots” off the bases are conducted by groups led by senior non-commissioned officers. The patrols are intended to keep other soldiers in line, he said.
Fairbanks police Chief Laren Zager said Thursday he’d been informed of the new Army policy. He does not anticipate any civilian policy changes related to the new military rules, he said. He said he’s heard good things about the Army’s courtesy patrol program.
“Apparently in the past, it’s been pretty effective. Seeing a sober military man in military uniform who outranks you has a sobering effect,” he said.
Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545. Follow him on Twitter, @FDNMcrime.