If the curfew was going to change this was going to be the time to do it since General Bell is changing command next week and would not have to deal with the repercussions of the decision. Unfortunately it looks like a curfew change will not be coming any time soon:
Despite saying in January that he planned to ease the curfew for higher-ranking servicemembers within two months, soon-to-retire U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. B.B. Bell said Saturday he will not change the curfew, because U.S. troops in South Korea have a “wartime mission.”
Bell said the 1-to-5 a.m. weekend curfew protects troops and helps them stay ready to fight. On weekdays, troops are required to stay indoors between midnight and 5 a.m. [Stars & Stripes]
The “wartime mission” is interesting considering General Bell had this to say about serving in Korea back in January:
This is not a combat zone over here. This is a modern, first-world country, Bell said at the end of a daylong visit to Camp Walker and Camp Henry. It is unacceptable in the U.S. military today to have this kind of policy in place and in any way condone it.
The policy General Bell was referring to was in regards to the number of non-command sponsored tours in Korea, but he admits Korea is not a combat zone and if the “wartime mission” is so important then why is pushing to have families come to Korea that would interfere with the “wartime mission” a lot more then a curfew change?
General Bell goes on about other reasons to keep the curfew:
“This curfew is hardly some kind of great infringement on the liberties of our servicemembers to go out and enjoy the great culture of this country,” he said during an interview with Stars and Stripes, his last before he returns to the States next week to retire June 9. “It simply says there comes a point where you’re supposed to go to bed.” (…)
“I would reject fundamentally that this is a hardship on the force, and it never has been. This is not an egregious curfew that somehow keeps people on our post 24 hours a day — far from it,” he said. “It simply says for four or five hours a night, you ought to be asleep in your domicile.”
If this was really an issue is USFK going to implement a bed check policy to ensure all servicemembers are in their beds with the lights out by 1AM? Has General Bell been in a barracks at 1AM? If he has he would undoubtedly see that there are plenty of people awake at 1AM and (gasp!) even after 1AM if you can believe it and none of them are thinking about the “wartime mission”. Instead they are doing things like socializing and playing video games all night. Shocking stuff.
The curfew change talk first came up in January and then was still being discussed in April. So what has changed since then that would cause commanders to not support a curfew change? Can anyone say Cows Gone Wild? USFK has had to issue warnings to soldiers to watch out for anti-US groups provoking incidents with them as we have seen in the past because of the US beef issue. I think it is pretty clear that preventing incidents between servicemembers and South Koreans is of more concern with the curfew then any “wartime mission”, just that no one wants to admit it.
My opinion on this is that USFK should keep the curfew, but bring back the Warrior Pass system that was in effect before 9/11 happened. The curfew hours would remain the same but each unit had a pre-determined number of Warrior Passes that could be handed out by the unit First Sergeant to servicemembers he/she felt were doing a good job. This allows the First Sergeant to only give passes to those he/she feels is deserving of one and not people likely to get in trouble out in the ville. The Warrior Pass also has the added benefit of creating competition within the ranks to get one of the passes for the weekend from the First Sergeant which ultimately means increased performance.
These seems like a fair compromise to ending this curfew nonsense with a policy that has a precedent of working before. Wasn’t the “wartime mission” before 2001 the same as it is now when the Warrior Passes were handed out? What has changed? Like I said before we all know the answer, but no one wants to admit it.