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New rules: No booze, 9 p.m. curfews at training posts

Jun. 18, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Soldiers train in infantry skills at Advanced Individual Training. Now soldiers will have to wait until they finish AIT, or go on leave, before they can stay out late or knock back a cold brew.
Soldiers train in infantry skills at Advanced Individual Training. Now soldiers will have to wait until they finish AIT, or go on leave, before they can stay out late or knock back a cold brew. (Vince Little / Army)
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New Rules

These restrictions and protections took effect this month for soldiers in Initial Entry Training:
■Alcohol and overnight pass privileges reduced.
■Battle Buddy system in effect regardless of IET length.
■Hotline phones will be installed in barracks common areas and can be used to report incidents of abuse.
■Gender separation of barracks as resources permit.
■IET command teams will perform checks after hours to ensure a safe environment.
■Expand use of or replace video cameras in barracks common areas.
■Commanders will integrate into training “predator indicators” (nicknames, attempts to isolate soldiers from battle buddies, special treatment, etc.).
■Leadership is now required to meet with Sexual Harassment/Assault Prevention and Response Program (SHARP) and Equal Opportunity Advisor (EOA) teams twice a month.
■Leadership will conduct brigade command climate surveys in addition to battalion and company survey requirements.
■IET schools will establish gender-specific mentoring programs whereby senior leaders can talk with and educate junior soldiers.
■IET schools will establish training for all personnel (leaders, cadre, civilians and soldiers) on ongoing training strategies and efforts at all levels; reporting procedures; care for victims; immediate actions to be taken upon alert of allegations (both restricted and unrestricted reports); and clear understanding of possible civil and military punishments.
Source: Training and Doctrine Command

Posts and MOSs

The expanded IET policy affects a total of 20 locations and training for a variety of military occupational specialties:
*Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.: 89D
Fort Benning, Ga.: 11B, C; 19D, K; 91A, M
Fort Bragg, N.C.: 37F, 38B
Fort Huachuca, Ariz.: 35F, G, M, T; 96B; 09L; 15W
Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.: 15B, D, F, G, J, N, R, S, T, U, X, Y; 88H, K, L, P, T, U
Fort Gordon, Ga.: 25B, C, F, L, N, P, Q, S, U; 94D, E, F, L, R
Fort Jackson, S.C.: 36B; 42A, F; 56M; 91B
Fort Lee, Va.: 88N; 91B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J, K, P; 92A, F, G, L, M, R, S, W, Y; 94A, H, K, P, T, Y; 89A, B, D; 27D
Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.: 12B, C; 31B, E; 12D, G, J, N, R, T, V, Y; 74D; 88M; 91L
Fort Meade, Md.: 25M, R, V; 46Q, R
Fort Rucker, Ala.: 15H, P, Q
Fort Sam Houston, Texas: 68A, D, E, G, J, K, M, P, Q, R, S, T, V, W, X
Fort Sill, Okla.: 13B, D, F, M, P, R, T, W; 14E, J, S, T; 94M, S
*Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas: 12M; 35N, P
*Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va.: 42R
*Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, Miss.: 12W
*Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center (NDSTC) Panama City, Fla.: 12D
*Naval Technical Training Center (NTTC) Pensacola, Fla.: 35S
*Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas: 12K, Q
*Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, Va.: 68H
* Sister-service sites where the Army does AIT as a participant in interservice training.

The Army has imposed early curfews and barred alcohol for soldiers in Initial Entry Training.

The Army has imposed early curfews and barred alcohol for soldiers in Initial Entry Training.

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The Army has imposed early curfews and barred alcohol for soldiers in Initial Entry Training.

New rules mean 9 p.m. curfews and no alcohol for young soldiers training for their first jobs — all in an effort to manage and protect them when Army statistics show they are most vulnerable to sexual assault. The rules apply every day, meaning, weekend or not, any partying must be dry and done early.

The Army effort includes several other measures. Training and Doctrine Command is installing rape-hotline phones and video cameras in barracks common areas and calling on leaders to perform after-hours barracks checks, educate troops about predatory behaviors and meet more frequently with prevention teams.

The service put the new rules in place while all of the military services are under pressure from Congress to stamp out sexual harassment and assault in the ranks.

Maj. Gen. Bradley May, the commander of Initial Military Training, said the policy is largely in response to soldier misconduct tied to overnight, alcohol-related events, often at hotels.

“It’s a common-sense policy, and what we’re trying to target is that vulnerability, that whole overnight, hotel room, where you have a trainee in this very disciplined environment, and then all of a sudden they’re out with this freedom,” May told Army Times in a June 14 interview. “When you look at the where the incidents occur, it makes sense to take that out of the equation to set conditions for a safe environment.”

The rules would affect 120,000 soldiers annually, as IET encompasses basic combat training, one-station unit training and Advanced Individual Training. Approximately 80,000 trainees undergo AIT and 40,000 trainees undergo OSUT each year. The expanded policy affects 20 AIT locations and two OSUT locations.

Some troops are frustrated with the new rules, claiming they punish innocent soldiers and demonstrate a lack of trust by the Army. Officials at one school — the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif. — are requesting an easing of the regulations because the restrictions seemed unfair given the lengthy course work there.

“This represents the military’s simplistic approach to solving a complex issue that it has ignored for years,” Spc. Sam Ellison, a 28-year-old in AIT as an intelligence analyst, raged in an email to Army Times. “If we treat all of the soldiers like criminals, they can’t commit crimes. Big Brother would be proud.”

'Credibility in jeopardy'

The regulations come amid growing pressure on the military from Congress and a recent Pentagon report that estimated that 26,000 military service members were sexually assaulted last year — thousands more than were reported two years before — and that of 3,374 reported incidents, 238 led to convictions.

According to Army data, alcohol was known to have been involved in 63 percent of rapes and aggravated sexual assaults reported between 2006 and 2011. About 54 percent of offenses in 2011 occurred in high-density housing, like military barracks.

“We have a battle-hardened Army that has earned the respect of the American public, and because of the challenges associated with sexual assault, our credibility is really in jeopardy,” May said. “When you think of that, what we need to do is work for that safe and secure environment where we can transform the civilian volunteer into a soldier.”

TRADOC enacted the new regulations May 31, coincidentally a day after the Pentagon acknowledged allegations that three members of the football team at the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland sexually assaulted a female midshipman at an off-campus house last year.

At Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, Ellison’s company leadership announced the restrictions at an abrupt Friday afternoon formation without a policy memorandum from TRADOC, he said. There was some confusion, and relief, a week or so afterward when leaders at the school announced the policy did not apply to soldiers like Ellison who are reclassifying into a new job and who tend to be older.

“There are IET soldiers well into their 20s and all of a sudden, they’re being treated like they’re children, and it’s kind of weird,” Ellison said. “One thing I’ve noticed about the military is if you raise the bar and treat people like adults, they’ll rise to the challenge.”

Enforcement and exceptions

The Initial Military Training Center of Excellence at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., sets the policy, and the subordinate commanders are expected to enforce it, May said. For example, a commander could direct a formation at 9 p.m. to ensure accountability and check to see if soldiers have alcohol on their breaths, or otherwise appear intoxicated.

May did not elaborate on the consequences for failure to comply or enforce the regulations, but said the organization must enforce high standards consistently.

Although May noted that the issue of sexual assault and harassment is a priority among senior Army leaders, the new rules originated with him. He said he first alerted commanders at the IMT CoE and his superiors then disseminated them to subordinate brigade commanders in a memorandum. The rules are expected to be formalized in a revision to TRADOC Regulation 350-6, which governs IET.

Among the exceptions to the restrictions, soldiers who are age 21 and older are authorized to consume alcohol while on approved leave or pass.

Typically, emergency leave and holiday block leave, which includes Christmas and New Year’s Day, are the only types of leave IET soldiers will take.

Brigade commanders may authorize four-day passes in conjunction with a training holiday or federal holiday, such as July 4.

Commanders may enact more restrictive policies or request exemptions. Army officials who supervise students at DLI are requesting a modification at the 6- to 18-month school in part because of its unusual duration. New students previously had a curfew of 10 p.m. after their initial 21 days on campus. After 20 weeks, if students had shown “proper maturity,” they no longer had a curfew.

The curfew affects about 1,000 Army students at the school, Presidio of Monterey spokesman Dan Carpenter said.

There are also exceptions built into the new rules for groups typically composed of older, more experienced troops. The restrictive measures do not apply to soldiers who are in school to reclassify into a new military occupational specialty.

Soldiers in the Basic Officer Leadership Course are also exempt. Few incidents have been reported of misconduct or sexual abuse in BOLC schools, according to an Army information paper on the new rules.

Married soldiers are allowed to live off post if the training for their MOS takes 21 weeks or more. The overnight pass provision does not apply to them, and they are only required to be with their battle buddies during the training day.

'Aggressive measures'

May said he had only heard positive feedback “for taking aggressive measures” and was surprised to hear of a negative reaction among some troops. He said he chalks it up to the sort of resistance that tends to accompany policy change.

“The parents out there have entrusted us with the care of their sons and daughters, and we just have to do some things to set the right conditions,” he said. “We don’t see this as rewards and punishments; it’s about setting a safe environment for our training.”

According to the Army information paper on the new rules, Army “leaders sense that the majority of misconduct cases in IET, to include sexual assaults, occur between trainees, and happen overnight in off-post hotels and involve alcohol.”

“They will still be allowed off-post privileges, but must return in the evening,” the paper states. “However, TRADOC is de-emphasizing the use and abuse of alcohol as the primary means of entertainment during non-duty hours for IET soldiers.”

While alcohol was said to be involved in 63 percent of rapes and aggravated sexual assaults over five years, the presence of alcohol may be under-reported because the victims fear they may be investigated for underage drinking or violating orders.

In the Army data on incidents from 2006 to 2011,victims were most often junior enlisted women, between 18 and 23 years old, who were assaulted during career transitions such as basic combat training or while entering their first unit — times of social isolation. Often, the assaults took place on the weekends, times consistent with social activity and decreased supervision, and the perpetrator was someone they knew.

“These transitional periods combine risk factors of limited supervision and immaturity to increase victim vulnerability among a predominantly male population in an environment associated with alcohol-related events in high density housing,” according to the Army’s 2012 report on the healthy and discipline of the force.

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