CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Starting in the new year, U.S. Marines at Camp Pendleton will be subjected to random Breathalyzer tests to curb excess drinking in the military, officials said.
The order for the semiannual tests was issued by Lt. Gen. R.E. Milstead Jr., deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs, and calls for any Marine or sailor with a blood alcohol content of 0.01 percent to be referred to counseling, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. Any Marine or sailor with a blood alcohol content of 0.04 percent or higher will be referred to medical personnel to determine fitness for duty.
Milstead said the move "is primarily for deterrence and education," but that does not preclude commanders from dishing out punishment.
The order comes after a study by the Institute of Medicine -- sponsored by the Department of Defense -- found 47 percent of military personnel admitted to binge drinking. That number is up from 35 percent in 1998, the Times reported.
The Marine Corps reported that for fiscal year 2011, at least 13 Marine deaths in the United States and abroad were alcohol-related, including motor vehicle accidents, one Marine falling from a 17-story building and several who passed out while drinking and could not be revived.
Meanwhile, the Marine Corps said in June there had been 333 reported cases of sexual assault in the previous year in which the aggressor, victim or both were intoxicated.