Navy Announces New Policies: Tests for Alcohol, Drugs, Synthetics

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Today’s military is not like yesterday’s military.

In the past, Sailors and Marines might have had days or weeks of notice before being posted to a battle in a conventional war.

Today, a navy ship can be attacked by high-speed suicide boats, Marine’s may be called upon in a moment’s notice to respond to a terrorist attack, and an aircraft carrier might suddenly find themselves the target of pirates.

Our military has to be ready to go 24/7, and in response to that need for constant readiness, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told some 700 sailors and Marines gathered on the hangar deck of the amphibious assault ship that the navy will start testing for Alcohol, Drugs, and Synthetics.

Of course, synthetics are very difficult to test for–but the US Military is confident they can find a way to do it.

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Wellness initiative to test for alcohol, drugs

By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Mar 5, 2012 18:46:31 EST

NAVAL STATION NORFOLK — The Navy and Marine Corps today introduced a wide-ranging wellness initiative with programs ranging from duty section Breathalyzer tests for alcohol use and reliable synthetic marijuana testing to enhanced anti-sexual assault training, greater emphasis on fitness and nutrition, increased on-base prices of tobacco products and the ability to temporarily leave the service, without penalty, to raise children.

The 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told some 700 sailors and Marines gathered on the hangar deck of the amphibious assault ship Bataan Monday afternoon, is aimed at combining a plethora of old and new personal readiness programs into a coherence, interrelated whole, as well as countering a force worn by a decade of high operational tempo that is simultaneously looking to widen its responsibilities in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Over the past decade, you in the Navy and Marine Corps team have proven you can withstand sustained high operation tempo,” Mabus said. “The new defense strategy will put increased responsibilities on the Navy and the Marine Corps in the years to come. You — the sailors and Marines — are the department’s most essential asset. And it is the duty of this department’s leadership to do all we can to provide every individual sailor and … Marine with the resources to maintain that resiliency.

“Being in the Navy and Marine Corps is rewarding,” Mabus said. “But it’s also difficult, and it’s demanding. All sailors, Marines and their families have to be equipped to meet both the physical and the mental challenges of being in our military. We’ve had an understanding of the need, but the approach has been too piecemeal.”

The new initiative, Mabus said, will be “a comprehensive and more effective approach.”

THE HIGHLIGHTS:

• Mandatory Breathalyzer tests for duty sections, and random tests for others, beginning this year.

“We’re not telling you not to drink, if you’re old enough,” Mabus said. “We are telling you that it’s important to keep legal, responsible use of alcohol from turning into a problem. … Sailors who drink excessively or too late the night before and report to duty can place themselves, their shipmates and equipment at risk.”

Mabus said the tests will not be used for punitive purposes but to identify sailors in need of training, counseling or treatment.

• Beefed-up sexual assault prevention training, including three 90-minute sessions for every sailor during their “A” school training.

“A sexual assault is an attack on a sailor or Marine, and none of their shipmates should tolerate such an attack,” Mabus said. “All allegations will be thoroughly investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted.”

• More mandatory training for motorcycle riders, and a zero-tolerance stance on drinking and driving. To ensure that officers “set the example of zero tolerance for drinking and driving,” Mabus said the Navy is establishing a formal policy that requires “any alcohol-related incident to be properly reviewed prior to an officer’s promotion.”

• Moving from a culture of testing to a culture of physical fitness in an effort to promote year-round fitness, even on smaller ships at sea, and avoiding “cramming” for semi-annual fitness tests.

“Fuel to Fight” will introduce more healthy food options to sailors’ diets. And the Navy will take additional steps toward being smoke-free with a new educational campaign, free smoking cessation products or services afloat and ashore to anyone who wants to quit, and, beginning between now and Sept. 30, the end of discounts on smoking products in Navy exchanges and ship’s stores.

• Establishment of a new Department of the Navy Diversity Officer.

“We are better warfighters when we have a diversity of ideas, experiences, expertise and backgrounds to fulfill our variety of missions,” Mabus said.

In particular, he said he wants to improve the Navy and Marine Corps as places “where more women want to stay and make a career and move on to the top ranks of our officers and our NCOs.”

• To that end, Mabus announced a remarkable initiative: a 12-month operational deferment for uniformed mothers following the birth of a child. The Navy is also introducing a “career intermission program,” now in pilot form, that will allow men or women to leave and return to the services after up to three years, without penalty, after taking time off to raise a child or a relative. Service members will be allowed to retain their military health care and exchange and commissary shopping privileges and restart their careers “at exactly the point” where they left off.

Certain shore commands will allow for flexible work hours and “tele-work” for up to two days a week,” Mabus said.

• A web-based credentialing program that will allow sailors to earn civilian certifications and licenses that correspond to their Navy ratings, collateral duties and out-of-rating assignments.

 

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