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No alcohol for soldiers on missions?

Published on 12/12/2008

From March 2009 Belgian military personnel serving on missions abroad may not be allowed to drink any alcohol at all. If approved the measure would also apply to soldiers who are training abroad. The measure is seen as necessary to counter alcohol abuse while on foreign operations.

This year 24 soldiers were sent home from missions abroad earlier than they would have been due to alcohol-related incidents.

This is negative for the image of the army and the Belgian defence department has decided to take active measures to counter this behaviour.

"We have been spared really serious incidents," says army spokeswoman Ingrid Baeck,” But we want to avoid this at all costs; it is better for the safety of the military personnel and for the family members."

During training camps abroad alcohol consumption will be strictly forbidden as well, if the measure is approved, as expected.

The trade unions do not agree with the decision. They understand that someone who is armed should not consume alcohol but they fear that if all alcohol is forbidden for personnel on assignment abroad it will increase the pressure on the soldiers already living in more difficult circumstances.