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Aiming to stem discipline problems, JBER limits alcohol use on base

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Acknowledging that there may be an alcohol and drug problem on base, officials at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson are banning alcohol in the barracks, according to Daysha Eaton of Alaska Public Radio.

Policies are being written to stem disciplinary problems related to alcohol on base and when military members are in Anchorage, according to Lt. Col. Bill Coppernoll, a U.S. Army spokesman.  Details are being ironed out.

“It’s not one single policy it’s really a number of different initiatives that are aimed at reducing the number of disciplinary issues and alcohol related-instances across U.S. Army Alaska,” Coppernoll told Eaton.

Legal-age soldiers will be permitted to consume alcohol at one club on the Richardson side of the JBER base and drink off base.  A ban on the Air Force side of the base is already in place.

Courtesy patrols in downtown Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city with a population nearing 300,000, will be added to ensure soldiers avoid trouble when in town, Coppernall said.  Already, he noted, service members carry a phone number they can call if they drink too much while on the town. Policies involving weapons are also under review.

“Disciplinary issues that involve weapons are pretty risky behavior,” Coppernoll told APRN. ”If there’s a mistake or there’s events that take place with alcohol and firearms that makes it even worse, so we’re taking a look at those.”

On Wednesday, the Army announced it had charged Spc. Marshall D. Drake, 23, with involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide and failure to obey regulations in the death of Pfc. Grant Wise, 25, who was found in another soldier's barracks room and declared dead early Christmas morning.

Drake shot Wise, the Army said in a written statement Wednesday. Drake also wrongfully stored his personal firearm and ammunition in the barracks and failed to disclose and register the gun, the Army said.

About 12,000 service men and women are deployed at JBER, the largest military installation in Alaska.  Some 4,000 deployed soldiers returned to the base in 2012.