By DoD News
By Terri Moon Cronk
The top US Defense Department spokesman expressed the department’s regrets Monday following yesterday’s arrest of a sailor in Okinawa, Japan, for an alleged drunken-driving accident that injured two people and the Afghanistan ambush deaths of National Public Radio journalist David Gilkey and his translator.
U.S. 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin and U.S. Naval Forces Japan commander Rear Adm. Matthew Carter ordered restrictions on liberty and prohibited the consumption of alcohol on or off base, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters today.
According to a news release from the commander, Navy Region Japan public affairs office, “Sailors who live off base will be permitted to travel to and from work and engage in essential activities such as childcare drop-off and pickup, trips to the grocery store, gas stations or the gym. The liberty curtailment will remain in effect until face-to-face training has been conducted by unit commanding officers, executive officers and command master chiefs with all personnel.”
The alcohol restriction will remain in effect until Aucoin and Carter “are comfortable that all personnel understand the impact of responsible behavior on the U.S.-Japan alliance and the United States’ ability to provide security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific,” the release said.
“These restrictions will help prevent future incidents by ensuring that each service member understands how their actions affect the U.S.-Japan alliance, which is essential to the security and stability in the region,” Cook said.
The order extends to all sailors assigned or forward-deployed to Japan, as well as transient sailors and units in Japan for temporary duty, the news release noted.
DoD To Aid In Investigation
DoD is committed to work with Japan on the alleged drunken-driving accident, he said.
“Obviously, this is a deeply concerning event that we wish had not taken place and we’re all going to cooperate with Japanese authorities fully in this investigation and do what we can to prevent these kinds of things from ever happening again,” the press secretary said.
DoD expects U.S. service members to obey orders, which is a focal point of the investigation, Cook noted. “Those orders were there for a reason and certainly commanders in Japan fully expect that our service personnel carry out their orders fully, and that they understand their role in maintaining the U.S.-Japan relationship.
The restrictions put in place today among Navy personnel in Japan indicate the seriousness with which commanders take the situation there, he added.
Journalist’s Death ‘A Loss’
The ambush deaths of NPR journalist David Gilkey and his translator, Zabihullah Tamanna, yesterday in Afghanistan are “a loss to all those who value honest, independent reporting under difficult circumstances,” the press secretary said.
Published reports said Gilkey and Tamanna were killed in a Taliban insurgent ambush while on assignment. “As an award-winning photographer for the Detroit Free Press and later at NPR, David often witnessed U.S. troops in the toughest conditions, sharing their hardship so that he could share their stories with the world,” he said.
In recent days, Gilkey and Zabihullah were documenting the efforts of U.S. and Afghan forces “to secure a more peaceful future for the Afghan people,” Cook said.