Bill introduced to allow underage active military to drink on base

U.S. Army Pfc. Jacob Pforter from Sellersville, Pa. drinks one of two allotted beers at a dining facility while soldiers gather to watch the Super Bowl XLIII at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Feb. 6, 2006. The Super Bowl aired on satellite television in Iraq beginning at 2 a.m. American troops in Iraq were allowed to drink beer without fear of court-martial for this year's Super Bowl _ an exception to a strict military ban on drinking alcohol in combat zones. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

A bill, sponsored by North Dakota State Rep. Andrew Maragos, has been introduced to legislature that would allow underage active military troops to drink alcohol on base.

According to WDAZ, the bill is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday morning in the House Judiciary Committee. If passed, it would allow service members between the ages of 18 and 21 to purchase and consume alcohol on military installations in North Dakota. The final authorization would be given by each base’s commanding officer.

Maragos, the lone sponsor on the bill, acknowledges that it will be very difficult to pass. He explained that the rationale has to do with promoting camaraderie and trust among service members who may be relaxing in the evening and discussing that day’s work.

“If you’re in combat, you have to be able to trust and think you know the guy in the foxhole next to you,” said Maragos, a Vietnam veteran.

“But we have to try,” he said about the difficulty of getting the bill passed. “That’s what this process is about.”

Lt. James Fisher, a public affairs officer at the Grand Forks Air Force Base, declined to comment on the proposal.

In another instance in 2010, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston proposed legislation to allow military service members under 21 to drink beer and wine at base restaurants and clubs.

The Florida Times-Union reported that top leaders in the military were hesitant to publicly express their opinion back then as well.

At the time, Kingston said military leaders were careful not to take a position on any issue that would differ from their local representatives in Congress. The bill, which had bipartisan support and opposition, should be determined by elected officials, military officials told Kingston.

“It’s a civilian-controlled military,” he said in 2010. “You have to respect the process.”

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