An alert reader sent us a link to this article that includes the text of NORTHCOM General Order # 1, which governs the conduct of “all JTF-Summit personnel during support operations to the 2012 NATO Summit.”  The order includes a list of prohibitions and specifies those prohibitions (and only those prohibitions) as punitive. 

Included in the prohibitions is the consumption of “any alcohol,” though the “first O-6 commander in the chain of command may approve an exception to this provision for a special social event.”  Not surprisingly, the order also states that JTF-Summit personnel will not “[s]0licit prostitutes or engage in conduct which is unprofessional or unbecoming as a member of the armed forces.”  General Order #1 “is effective immediately and expires when all DOD personnel have redeployed to their home station/port.”

Note that under this order, taking communion in a church that uses only wine for the Eucharist or that uses “de-alcoholized” wine that still retains a small amount of alcohol would be a UCMJ offense.  Multi-Natuional Corps — Iraq’s General Order Number 1 had an exception for “use of alcohol for authorized religious ceremonies.”  I’m surprised this general order doesn’t include a similar religious exception.

21 Responses to “Colombia fallout continued [corrected — thanks, Michael Lowrey]”

  1. Casual Reader says:

    I grew up in a culture where alcohol was part of every supper.  This is still very common in many countries and cultures.   I will guarantee no other country at the Summit will have this ridiculous prohibition.
    Finally, define “very special social event”.

  2. stewie says:

    Finally, define “very special social event”.
    Dinner while watching a very special episode of Blossom?
    (that’s funny for those of the right age).

  3. Terminal velocity says:

    Policy issues aside, is it a lawful order?  I think most would agree that in an overseas contingency environment, a no booze order is lawful because of culutral sensitiviies or the need to ensure operational readiness 24/7.  But here in CONUS, does it unduly infringe on individual rights where, as here, the stated military purpose appears only to be precluding the possibility of alcohol induced service discrediting conduct?  For example, could a particpant in a liberty status, not in uniform (but not attending an approved “wet”social event), who had a glass of wine and suffered no impairment be held criminally accountable for violating the order?  

  4. Terminal velocity says:

    As a follow up, I think the issues raised in my last post are going to be very important for judge advocates to consider if commanders seek to minimize off-duty misconduct or risky behavior through broad punitive orders that interfere with private rights or personal affairs. Given statements from SECDEF and other senior leaders telling troops to get in line, I don’t think it would be a surprise if some commanders decided that it would be a good idea to prohibit a wide variety of legal but potentially risky behaviors.  (Prohibiting motorcycles or alcohol consumption comes to mind).   As a leadership issue, such orders may be unwise for a variety of reasons such as impact on morale or for violating the axiom that one should not give an order he or she can’t enforce.  But command advisors (and those tasked with representing clients who violate such orders) would be well served to understand the outer limits of a commander’s authority to limit personal behavior if these rules become more intrusive than they have been in the past.

  5. Lieber says:

    yeah, there are Constitutional issues that come up with this sort of stuff all the time.  (for example, I’ve questioned various attempts to prohibit specific legal beverages etc…)  However, the military nexus to the order when you’re temporarily assigned to a specific event is pretty strong.  It’s not like this is a permanent order for a specific garrison.  So I think it would stand up.

    Disagree on it being common sense in deployed environments.  We could easily implement a 2 drinks a day rule etc. the way some of our partners do.  the cultural sensitivities reason given for GO1 was always complete bullcrap.  If it were legit we wouldn’t serve pork in the DFACs…they care far more about that than they do alcohol or porn (as anyone who’s deployed can attest).

  6. Lieber says:

    Also think the Navy random testing for alcohol on duty is ripe for challenge.  Testing for a legal substance without PC?

  7. Michael Lowrey says:

    Shouldn’t the headline say “Colombia” not “Columbia” as the misconduct that prompted this happened in South America, not South Carolina?

  8. Ama Goste says:

    ML, since my roots are in Central America, my first thought when I saw the original headline was “Why are they still dealing with the shuttle debris?”

  9. Cloudesley Shovell says:

    To me, this order exemplifies weak leadership and a fundamental lack of respect and trust down the chain of command.  A simple reminder that drunkenness and other service-discrediting behavior will be dealt with appropriately would more than suffice.
    It also puts US forces first in the laughingstock parade. 

  10. Phil Cave says:

    And don’t use mouthwash or toothpaste., ’cause they have alcohol in them.  Some years ago the Navy took certain mouthwashes and colognes out of the ship’s store — alcohol — the alcoholics used to buy up the stock.  They almost banned antifreeze after four Marines almost killed themselves making booze out of antifreeze in Desert Storm.

  11. Christopher Mathews says:

    @ Cloudesley Shovell:  A simple reminder that drunkenness and other service-discrediting behavior will be dealt with appropriately would more than suffice.

    One would hope.

    @ Phil Cave: … four Marines almost killed themselves making booze out of antifreeze in Desert Storm.

    But, alas, hopes are sometimes dashed.

  12. Cap'n Crunch says:

    Irrespective of the wisdom of the order, I believe that this is unconstitutional (First Amendment) when applied to Catholics taking communion.  On that basis alone, the General is setting himself up to be sued.  Seems to me that the exception should be made for that.

  13. Christopher Mathews says:

    @ Cap’n C:  I believe that the rule would be considered akin to a neutral law of general applicability which would pass Constitutional muster under Employment Division v. Smith

    This does not, of course, make it wise.

  14. Christopher Mathews says:

    I suppose I should note that the rule may fall afoul of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, even if it’s not prohibited by the First Amendment.  I don’t know whether that issue has ever been addressed, given the accomodations for religious services in prior General Orders.

  15. Dwight Sullivan says:

    JMTGst, Goldman v. Weinberger, 475 U.S. 503 (1986), would also be a huge impediment to a successful First Amendment challenge to the policy.  Your idea of a RFRA challenge to the order, though, is intriguing.

  16. Christopher Mathews says:

    So it would.  Even if you could make out a First Amendment claim in the abstract, the deference given military regulations under Goldman might be enough for the government to prevail.  I’m not sure the Court would find it precisely on point, given the majority opinion’s focus on the military’s need to preserve uniformity of appearance; but the need to preserve uniformity of conduct would probably get the same deference. 

    As a side note, I think it would be interesting to know whether the Goldman decision would have come out the same way if AFR 35-10 had proscribed, for example, the wear of certain undergarments rather than headgear; there’s language that suggests it might not.  Sadly, we may never know.

  17. Zachary Spilman says:

    I’m not sure that a First Amendment or religious freedom argument is necessary. I’m certain that this order is both prejudicial to good order and discipline in the armed forces and of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

  18. Michael Korte says:

    I know we’re all great legal minds here, but as Judge Advocates, how about challenging something like this via the doctrine of “This Is An Incredibly Stupid Overreaction And Let’s Use The Rules We’ve Already Got Under The UCMJ First” ?  Seems like you guys are putting in a lot of time on Westlaw when a clue bat is a more efficient tool.  Just my two cents, adjusted for ego inflation.

  19. Christopher Mathews says:

    @ Michael K:  That doctrine has proven distinctly less effective than you might think.  It’s a real disappointment.

  20. Zachary Spilman says:

    There are more important things to worry about:

  21. Mike "No Man" Navarre says:

    MK–I would concur with JMTG that said doctrine has fallen into relative disuse.  Given stories that my dad told me about how sailors poured a gallon of antifreeze through a loaf of bread to make some sort of moonshine back in the day and the similarity to the stupidity of above mentioned Marines, I’d say the clue bat has never really worked well.