By Ms. Shayna E Brouker (IMCOM)May 20, 2011
Responding to information that some unit commanders neglect to report substance use and abuse among their Soldiers, the Army issued ALARACT 189/2011 - Commander Compliance With Army Regulation 600-85, better known as the Army Substance Abuse Program, on May 11.
The Army's 2010 Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, Suicide Prevention Report, commonly known as the Red Book, pointed out several concerns regarding commanders not following the rules laid out in AR 600-85.
To be clear, AR 600-85 mandates that commanders foster a positive command climate that discourages alcohol and drug abuse. It provides support for those who need assistance for problems related to alcohol and other drug abuse. In addition, commanders are directed to support substance abuse prevention campaigns and alcohol-free activities in the unit and on the installation.
"Commanders need to remember that they are responsible for their Soldiers," said Robert McCollum, an ASAP specialist. "They are the most important link in this program."
Both commanders and Soldiers should be aware of the regulation's rules. Some key points include:
-Commanders must refer any Soldier to the ASAP for evaluation within five duty days of notification that the soldier received a positive urinalysis for illicit drug use or was involved in alcohol-related misconduct. Commanders must immediately report all offenses involving illegal possession, use, sale, or trafficking in drugs or drug paraphernalia to the provost marshal for investigation or referral to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division Command.
-Initiation of administrative separation is mandatory for all soldiers identified as illegal drug abusers, those involved in two serious incidents of alcohol-related misconduct within 12 months and for all soldiers involved in illegal trafficking, distribution, possession, use, or sale of illegal drugs.
-Initiation of administrative separation does not mean that the separation authority will decide to separate, but Soldiers who test positive for illegal drugs a second time or who are convicted with a Driving While Intoxicated 2 require a show cause board or positive action by a general officer to retain.
The ASAP mission is to strengthen the overall fitness and effectiveness of the Army's workforce to conserve manpower and enhance the combat readiness of Soldiers. It is commanders' answer to problems related to substance use and abuse.
"ASAP is not a negative program, but it's intended to prevent negative consequences," McCollum said.
Knowing and following the rules will keep Soldiers in the clear, mission-ready and out of trouble.