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U.S. Navy Cracking Down on Sailors’ Drinking, Drug Use

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The U.S. Navy has announced that it is increasing the pace of drug tests and implementing other measures to deter illicit drug use and binge drinking, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Aug. 26.

Random testing of Navy personnel will be increased 50 percent, and all sailors who move to new postings will be subjected to drug tests within 72 hours of reporting for duty. Those who test positive for illicit drugs will be automatically discharged, as will sailors with a second drunk-driving offense.

More Navy commands also will be required to appoint a senior officer to head their alcohol and other drug control efforts, including establishing treatment and prevention programs.

The new policies went into effect July 30; the intent is to cut alcohol and other drug abuse by 25 percent.

The crackdown is puzzling to some observers who note that the drug problem in the military is at a post-Vietnam low and that alcohol-related incidents also have declined in recent years. Navy officials point to the need to improve readiness in a time of war and increase professionalism in the service — particularly in regards to official activities and ceremonies that once included sanctioned bouts of heavy drinking.

“I see the Navy as a Fortune 500 company that provides people with benefits and a career,” said Bill Flannery, director of the Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention program. “Alcohol abuse is not what we do.”

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