Breathalyzers: Not Just for the Navy Any More

| December 16, 2012

Well, it looks like the USMC is beginning to bend to the same PC whims as the rest of DoD.  And it’s doing so by following the Navy’s lead regarding breathalyzers and mass screenings.

The USMC has announced something called the “Alcohol Screening Program”.  Under that program, all Marines will be screened at random twice yearly while on duty – war zones included.

Show any measurable amount of alcohol, and you’re in “deep doo-doo”.  Sure, the program guidance is that any Marine showing between 0.01% and 0.03% BAC will receive “counseling”.  (You and I all know that in reality it means they’ll be put on “that list”.  And with end strength going down . . . . )  Blow 0.04% or above, and you get a trip to the medics for “evaluation”.

Program guidance authorizes commanders to discipline Marines “should the situation warrant”.  How many want to bet we see a de facto “no tolerance” policy – complete with NJPs for violators – before too long?

The program requires the appointment of coordinator at unit level, of course – as well as annual reporting requirements.  Gee, that’s just what every unit needs:  another extra duty position for unit leadership, another statistic to be tracked, and another mandatory annual report.

Look, I’m NOT condoning people showing up for duty impaired.  But this program is a freaking waste.  Virtually everything the program mandates already exists except for the coordinator and reporting requirements.  Almost every installation I’ve ever seen either has a breathalyzer or can get access to one through coordination with local LE.  A commander can already order someone he suspects to have alcohol in their system to go get tested.  And an NCO can already counsel some Joe Schmoe who shows up for duty smelling like a brewery about showing up to duty in that condition.

As a taxpayer, I object to the waste.  And as a former member of the military, I object to the micromanagement.  Both are counterproductive as hell.

Category: Dumbass Bullshit, Military issues

Comments (26)

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  1. AW1 Tim says:

    “As a taxpayer, I object to the waste. And as a former member of the military, I object to the micromanagement. Both are counterproductive as hell.”

    Concur. Back in my day, this was also used to rid the command of “undesirables”. All it took was for the skipper to use his Star Chamber crew to designate those he wished to dump. They’d wait until after lunch when they knew he (they) had a couple beers and then send them to the Corpsman under suspicion of having consumed alcohol and being “unfit for duty”. Of course they’d test positive.

    Afterward, it was a quick trip to NJP, followed by an admin separation board and, in one case I personally witnessed (having had to appear at it as a witness) it all happened in one single day. The sailor was tested, sent to Captain’s mast, to the admin board, and thence to the bus station with all his belongings (which had already been packed while the separation board was in session).

    This shit will happen because the military is letting the PC crowd once more dictate to them.

  2. E-6 type, 1ea says:

    Six months tops and the Army will be doing this. I chalk this up to a visit from the Good Idea Fairy and some washed up Major who needed to find one more bullet for his last OER.

  3. Orner1 says:

    We can thank SecNav Ray Mabus for this idiocy. These are the things that make a Commander count the days until his change of command. Programs like this force leadership to focus more time on maintaining inspection-ready programs for the IG than practicing actual leadership.

  4. Green Thumb says:

    When I was a Private if I was not hung over or still drunk then I just did not feel right.

    I can remember the five-ten milers. If you were in the rear, it smelled like a brewery. Hell, you could get intoxicated on the sweat fumes alone.

    My rule of thumb was this: I really did not care what you did the night before (booze related), just make formation and the runs.

    As an officer and even as an NCO, I never looked for it (garrison)if it was not in my face. Simple. If it was in my face then I had to take action. Simple.

  5. Ex-PH2 says:

    My, how things have changed.

    I knew Marines and sailors who went on a bender on weekends but sobered up by 10PM. Something about getting crocked and metabolizing all that alcohol makes it possible to get crocked all over again for up to three days by simply drinking cold water, iced tea or cold soda.

    And not one molecule of alcohol existed on their breath.

    But that was when people did their imbibing at the club or bars off base, on weekends and holidays, and not during working hours.

  6. Doc Bailey says:

    Single men in barracks don’t go into plaster saints.

    This is complete and utter horse shit, BUT seeings as Marines were founded in a bar, and never really left since. . . chances are this will last all of a day before they realize Marines stay drunk

  7. FltMedic says:

    Is Jimmy Carter going to be the next SecDef? Might as well go whole hog and bring him back I guess.

    So glad I’m not Active Duty anymore, and I can’t wait for Aug and my ETS from the Reserves…

  8. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    Am I missing something here? Isn’t this about being under the influence while on duty?

  9. Stacy0311 says:

    Guess no more Gruntburger and a beer for lunch at the Margarita E-club

  10. Hondo says:

    2-17 Air Cav: yes – and no.

    Identifying folks drunk on duty (or at least who have a BAC) is indeed the stated intent. However, the objections I have are fourfold:

    (1) not necessary. Except for the admin overhead, everything that’s needed is already there.
    (2) potential for abuse. Should be obvious.
    (3) micromanagement/removal of chain-of-command’s discretion. Again, should be obvious.
    (4) waste of resources. See (1) above.

    I won’t even discuss the fact that “under the influence” has a shaky definition at best, which is also subject to abuse. Or the fact that this is sending the absolutely wrong message to the troops (“we know you’re a bunch of untrustworthy SOBs so we’re going to make you blow into a tube periodically to prove you’re sober”).

    Bottom line: this is simply not necessary, and is yet another example of treating adults like children – as well as a monumental waste of resources and a bad idea from square one. If/when someone proves he/she needs to be treated like a child – or should get their dong flattened – fine.

    But en masse? Please. That’s BS.

  11. USMCE8Ret says:

    I wonder what restrictions will come into play in the months/years to come at the MCX and at the clubs aboard base? Will alcohol not be sold at exchanges/package stores on Sundays now? Will NO alcohol be served at clubs on Sundays?

    See where I’m going with this?

  12. Devtun says:

    Hardcore hunter of gunmen/drinker Gunny Highway wouldn’t stand a chance in 2012…an anachronism in the “new” Marine Corps.

  13. DaveO says:

    What events/incidents of drunk on duty forced DON and HQMC to go to this extreme?

    Are marines and corpsmen self-medicating instead of seeking assistance for PTSD, TBI, and such?

  14. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    If I recall correctly, B Troop 2/17 at Fort Campbell had soda machines. They were stocked ONLY with beer at .25 per can. It was always Pabst. Guess things have changed.

  15. Menoth says:

    I’m in right now and have been the guy to go home at lunch, make a nice big sandwich, and wash it down with a cold beer. Best idea? Probably not. Did I show back to work impaired? Nope. Would I dare to get hammered at lunch time or to show to to CQ or something plastered? Oh hell no. It’s common sense. But, common sense isn’t that common and I’ve heard of things like that happening. Those dumb bastards lost rank and all of a sudden had a lot less money to drink with.

    Being hungover is one thing. You can just suck on that Monday morning run and heave excellence into the first bush you pass. Show up to duty drunk and you pay the piper. This is just one more tool to aid in the draw down. But, hey, what do I know?

  16. Bill R. says:

    I remember reading about this a few months ago. It was supposed to be only for underage drinkers. Most, myself included were saying it was a waste of time and resources then. Have the objectives changed and now they are just looking for anyone to bust?

  17. Hondo says:

    2-17 Air Cav: they have indeed. If I recall correctly, beer machines in dayrooms went away sometime in the 1970s – mid 1970s, I think, but it might have hung around a bit longer at some locations.

  18. Hayabusa says:

    There were beer vending machines in the BOQs at Ft. Sam Houston at least as recently as the early 1990s. Ask me how I know…

  19. Hondo says:

    Hayabusa: true, and in 2000 the BOQ/Guest House on Kelly Barracks in Germany had a bar on the ground floor. However, the discussion above concerned dayrooms in unit barracks – not BOQs.

  20. Ex-PH2 says:

    There were beer vending machines in the first and chiefs’ barracks at Great Lakes in the 1970s. I posted some time back that I was playing beer poker with an MM named Squirrel and the loser bought the beer. It was Pabst. Then we went to the payroll office and got our paychecks.

  21. FatCircles0311 says:

    Uh oh, guess 70% of line companies in the USMC will be NJP’d now. It was routine to drink yourself stupid in the bricks then wake up at 5:30 hung over smelling like a brewery for moto runs. They might as well ban alcohol and quit p-footing around their desired intention of making enlisted military life unbearable.

    With all of these asinine and absurd comments coming from those in Washington regarding firearms I suggest we start breathalyzing these bozos because there is absolutely no way they are not drunk talking like they are.

  22. KWDriver says:

    Can wait to update my QTB slides with this steaming pile of “looking out for soldiers”. Thanks higher!

  23. B Woodman says:

    “Program” = “Pogrom”

  24. Derpy says:

    This is a new thing? The Army’s been doing this for a while. At my last unit out at JBLM, every time we had a piss test you also had to take a breathalyzer. I always figured it was just trying to catch those who showed up to formation drunk.

    You’re supposed to be hungover at formation – everyone knows that.

  25. NHSparky says:

    No more payday Friday’s at Beeman’s? No more day-after-duty at Andy’s Hut?

    And there were beer machines in the Navy barracks (depending on where) as late as 1990, but very few.

    Besides, bubbleheads back then didn’t measure their consumption in beers, but cases.

  26. BK says:

    I was my company’s UPL for a while in the Guard. Not only was it a pain because the training was an hour and a half away, but so, too, was the piss delivery.

    That meant spending half a day ferrying piss to the state Counter Drug blue falcons to find out who’s name should be written in disappearing ink on the UMR. If we introduced breathalyzers to my old company, for crying out loud, they’d be ruined just by bringing them in the building in the morning. Nobody was ever impaired, just that highly functional level of pleasantly sauced.