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FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The commander general of the Army in Alaska acknowledged that his decision to ban alcohol in barracks at bases across the state will not be popular, but he said he expects his order to be enforced.
"Arctic Warriors, we have a problem with good order and discipline in our barracks, and it's our responsibility to fix it," Major Gen. Michael Garrett stated in a letter published this week in the official military newspaper. "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."
Garrett indicates in his letter that the new policy is being adopted to reduce disciplinary problems associated with alcohol. He said those incidents include the killing of an Anchorage soldier on Christmas morning at Anchorage's Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_news/article_34214d38-6c4d-11e2-8a62-0019bb30f31a.html">according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
Pfc. Grant W. Wise, 25, from Fairport, N.Y., was found dead of a gunshot wound in another soldier's room. The Army charged 23-year-old Spc. Marshall Drake with involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide and failure to obey regulations.
In a written statement, the Army alleges that Drake shot Wise. Officials also say Drake wrongfully stored his personal firearm and ammunition in the barracks and failed to disclose and register the gun.
The new policy announced by Garrett pertains to single-soldier housing and surrounding common areas at the base and Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks. Army spokesman Bill Coppernol said the policy does not extend to family housing at the Army bases.
In addition to banning alcohol in barracks, Garrett introduced related policies, including increased enforcement on both Army posts and more "courtesy patrols" led by senior noncommissioned officers at problem areas off-base. The patrols are intended to keep other soldiers in line, he said.