By Tech. Sgt. Melissa K. Mekpongsatorn, U.S. Forces Japan
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan—U.S. Forces, Japan, announced an update to the liberty order that is effective immediately.
Two updates were made to the existing liberty program, including new operational levels to define liberty and updates to the buddy policy.
"This updated Liberty Order applies to all U.S. service members in Japan, whether they are stationed here or simply passing through on TAD or TDY orders or even on vacation," said Lt. Gen. John Dolan, U.S. Forces, Japan commander. "The Liberty Program safeguards the vital relationship we have with Japan, bolsters our operational readiness, and ensures that we can meet our obligations to defend Japan under the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security."
Commanders are now directed to utilize the following operational levels (OPLEVEL) to describe liberty:
- OPLEVEL 1: Liberty/curfew established by the current USFJ Liberty Order with no additional restrictions (i.e. already established curfew and drinking limitations.
- OPLEVEL 2: Liberty/curfew with limitations per authorized commander. The limitations may or may not include alcohol consumption restrictions based on mission requirements.
- OPLEVEL 3: No liberty/restricted curfew. Service members are primarily restricted to place of residence (on or off base) when not performing their mission or as approved by an authorized commander.
The new order notes that operational levels are subject to change due to foreign criminal jurisdiction incidents that may threaten host nation basing and/or the U.S. ability to complete its operational mission, or anti-terrorism and force protection requirements.
Updated liberty buddy policy:
The liberty buddy policy is now mandatory for all E-5 and below who are:
- TDY/TAD, deployed, leave, or pass status in Japan for 179 days or less.
- Assigned on Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders or deployed to Japan for more than 180 days and planning to participate in an activity that involves the consumption of alcohol.
The liberty buddy policy requires that all E-1s to E-5s must be accompanied by a “liberty buddy” from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., if off-installation in Japan, based on the above categories.
A liberty buddy may be:
- An active-duty military member
- A person on SOFA status
- An adult family member
- An individual approved by an authorized commander
Below is a quick refresher of the liberty order:
- Before any military member is granted liberty off-installation, members must have completed their service-specific Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Training as well as Japan Cultural Orientation Training with added emphasis on service core values within the past 12 months.
- For all military personnel, off-installation public consumption of alcohol is prohibited between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. daily.
- E-1s to E-5s are subject to a curfew between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., during which they must either be on a U.S. military installation, off the installation in a private residence, in lodging room, or in the performance of official duties.
"Recent incidents in Japan have reinforced the importance of maintaining good order and discipline,” said Dolan. “The Liberty Program relies on commanders to set the standard and hold their people accountable, as well as leaders at all levels - supervisors, NCO's and peers - to uphold our high standards of conduct. If you see an act of indiscipline, step up and stop it. We all have a responsibility in maintaining and fostering our long lasting alliance with the country of Japan."