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Booze battle tackles sozzled soldier scandal

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Photo: DPA
08:36 CEST+02:00
Found passed out in ditches, driving service vehicles half-cut or firing weapons by accident under the influence. A German army camp in Afghanistan is asking what to do with its drunken soldiers.

The Bundeswehr's Mazar-i-Sharif camp in northern Afghanistan has started a battle against booze after a number of dangerous incidents involving drunken soldiers forced the camp commander to tighten rules, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Tuesday.

Army rules clearly state that soldiers are allowed two cans of beer or two glasses of wine a day - enforced using ration cards at the camp bar. But the rule is regularly flaunted, inside sources said, with soldiers often hoarding up their beer ration for late-night binge drinking sessions.

Soldiers told the magazine their comrades were often found comatose in ditches along the camp paths. Some had lost their weapons in drunken stupors, and even caused accidents after getting behind the wheels of service vehicles after drinking.

At least one soldier is being investigated after letting his weapon off in the camp by mistake. Although no one was hurt, Operation Command claim he was drunk.

More seriously, another soldier believed to have taken his own life by shooting himself with his own weapon was found to have been drinking heavily beforehand.

Since taking command of the camp in February, Commander Jörg Vollmer has been making a push for temperance - and in the process is taking no prisoners, said the magazine.

“The commander is very strict here and misbehaviour in this regard is not acceptable to him and every matter is looked into, cleared up and if confirmed, punished, regardless of rank or function of the soldier,” a Bundeswehr spokesman told Der Spiegel.

Commander Vollmer takes the matter so seriously that he sometimes patrols the barracks late at night personally to do spot checks, the report said. There have already been 17 cases of disciplinary action relating to alcohol consumption, most of which have resulted in fines for the soldiers concerned.

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But in 14 cases, the soldiers' misconduct has been so serious that - in an attempt to clean up the camp - they have been sent home early in disgrace before the end of their tours, wrote the magazine.

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