5@5 Alcohol Detection Devices

On Thursday at 5 p.m. (EST), we’ll post a hot topic on Facebook and ask you for your questions.  On the following Thursday, we’ll choose five of those questions and answer them on our blog.  Stay engaged, stay informed – Navy 5@5

We asked for your questions on Jan. 24 about the use of alcohol detection devices as a new tool for commanders to use in their efforts to reduce irresponsible use of alcohol. The following answers were provided by Fleet Master Chief Scott Benning, fleet master chief for Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education.

Questions asked:

1. Will Sailors be forced into alcohol treatment programs or be punished because of the results of the ADD program? 

Our goal is for commands to use the ADD inspection results as an education and awareness tool to encourage Sailors to consider how their alcohol choices can affect their work performance. The use of ADDs is only one component of an overall strategy to deter the irresponsible use of alcohol. Other components of the strategy include our media campaigns that are continually updated, support and counseling, training programs and treatment options.

ADD testing is non-punitive and will assist with identifying Sailors who may require support and assistance with alcohol use decisions.  It can be used to provide further education and counseling or referral to Drug and Alcohol Programs Advisor for additional assistance.

Sailors must be mission ready.  A Sailor who reports to work after a long night of heavy drinking is neither in the right frame of mind nor fully capable of performing his or her best. In the past, we’ve talked about the effects of alcohol but the ADD now enables us to show Sailors – with concrete information, how much alcohol may still be in their system hours after the last drink was consumed.

Commanding officers may use ADD results as follows:

    • As a basis to further evaluate a service member’s fitness for duty through the use of a Competence for Duty examination
    • Removal from the performance of assigned tasks
    • Education and counseling for the member by command-designated leaders
    • Command referral to the DAPA for additional assistance through the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program, including alcohol abuse and dependency education and counseling
    • To provide the foundation for a probable cause search when considered along with other evidence of intoxication, including but not limited to, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, muscular movement, general appearance or behavior, and/or an admission of alcohol use by the service member or statements of other witnesses.

2. What research has the Navy done to substantiate the theory that using ADDs will have a positive impact?

Following pilots in the submarine community and at the Naval Academy, Fleet Forces Command gathered input from 13 sea and shore commands over the summer of 2012 using alcohol detection devices to determine the best way to implement this program.  The feedback received from the fleet was critical in shaping the ADD policy that was signed last week.

The general tone of the input received from Sailors in the fleet during Fleet Forces initial testing was a pleasant surprise, particularly from the more junior personnel. They responded quite well and verbalized their desires to have a safe working and living environment.

3. Are the ADD inspections for deployments or all commands?

All commands, whether they are stateside or operating forward, will receive ADDs for use. The delivery of the ADDs is broken down into five phases with all Navy commands receiving ADDs by May 24, 2013.

4. How will it apply equally at all levels of the chain of command?

We hold ALL our personnel to the highest standards of performance. The implementation of the ADD initiative is no different. This policy applies to all Navy active-duty military personnel and reservists in a drilling active-duty status regardless of rank or position.

5. Is this only to find and help those who may have alcohol problems?

While identifying and providing support to Sailors who may require assistance with alcohol-related decisions is certainly a goal of the ADD initiative, it is not the only intent of the program. The primary goal of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative’s ADD program is to provide commanders and commanding officers with a useful tool to complement command efforts already in place to enhance safety and provide awareness and education for service members, thereby helping them make responsible decisions regarding alcohol usage.  

What do you think of the use of alcohol detection devices as a new tool to reduce irresponsible use of alcohol? Comment below.