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US Army unit banned from alcohol, confined to base over drunken scooter rides

Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Hilbert, commander, 7th Army Training Command, spoke to 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division soldiers in Nuremberg, Germany, Mar. 1, 2022. U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Christian Carrillo)
July 15, 2022

A U.S. Army unit deployed to the Grafenwoehr training area in Bavaria, Germany in March has been banned from drinking alcohol and confined to their quarters after a string of drunken scooter incidents.

Army officials told Stars & Stripes this week that they instituted an alcohol ban and suspended overnight passes for soldiers from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. Maj. Patrick Connelly, the brigade spokesman, said the restrictions came about because five soldiers have been charged with DUIs for drinking and then riding around on electric scooters since the unit’s arrival in Bavaria in March.

E-scooters have become commonplace in Germany, but local laws treat drunkenly scooting around on these small personal mobility devices the same way as they would a drunken driver of a traditional motor vehicle.

The restrictions went into effect on July 7 and will remain in effect until the unit has time to retrain soldiers.

“It is vital to our mission in the European theater of operations that we uphold good order and discipline within our formations,” Connelly said. “These restrictions will ensure we maintain our mission readiness and remain good guests with our host nation.”

The unit, which is based out of Fort Stewart, Ga., was deployed to Germany as part of the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the end of February. The U.S. has deployed thousands of additional troops to Europe in recent months to bolster the eastern edge of the NATO alliance, which shares hundreds of miles of borders with both Russia and Ukraine.

Last month, U.S. troop levels in Europe surpassed 100,000 personnel. That figure is up from around 70 to 80,000 U.S. military personnel on the continent before Russia launched its Ukraine invasion on Feb. 24.

The German government has reportedly expressed gratitude for the arrival of additional U.S. troops in their country.

Markus Soeder, the Mayor of Bavaria, held a breakfast event in March welcoming the Army unit.

On Wednesday, German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited the brigade at the Grafenwoehr training area to express his gratitude for their presence.

“What you do here, each and every one of you, is of existential importance to the security of my country, my people, our continent and our alliance,” Steinmeier told the U.S. Army unit.

Steinmeier’s visit is reportedly the first time a German federal president has visited with U.S. troops in Germany since 1996.