Morale: Red Cards For The Randy


October 4,2008:  American marines and sailors on Okinawa have a new good behavior program. Those that don't get in trouble while off base, get gold liberty (naval term for going off the ship or base) cards, which allows them to leave their base whenever they want, and be able to stay out all night (but no drinking booze after 2 AM). Those who have had some problems, or are new and young, get a red card. This requires that they leave base with a "liberty buddy," and the two are responsible for keeping each other out of trouble.

All this is because some sailors and marines have misbehaved off base. While the crime rate for the marines and sailors is much lower than that of the local civilians, and Japanese in general, many Okinawans don't want U.S. troops on their island. Many Okinawans don't want to part of Japan, either, but that's another story.

Okinawa has been host to U.S. military forces since late in World War II. That's over 60 years. Until 1972, when Japan took over, the U.S. ran the island. The population of the island is 1.3 million, plus 40,000 U.S. troops. American military bases occupy 18 percent of the island. Despite the large number of jobs these bases bring to the island, it's crowded. Military commanders are under a lot of pressure to have zero trouble between the troops and the locals. Zero is impossible, but those who get closest are more likely to get promoted.


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