The Eighth Army is taking a hardline stance against those who break health protection condition orders during the coronavirus pandemic, even publishing the results of enforcement actions online.
Three unnamed soldiers from the 94th Military Police Battalion received Article 15s after visiting an off-post bar and sneaking through a hole in the installation fence on Camp Walker, in the South Korean city of Daegu.
The Eighth Army said the punishments were published “to ensure our soldiers, civilians, contract employees and their families understand the ramifications of not following the commander’s directives.”
Each of the soldiers were reduced in rank to E-1, docked $866 per pay month for two months and placed on 45-day restrictions.
One soldier created the hole in the installation’s fence, while two others were chided for not reporting the hole, according to punishment summaries. Two soldiers also made false official statements to investigators, the summaries stated.
“Doing the wrong thing has serious consequences,” the soldiers’ overarching command wrote online. “Don’t risk everyone’s safety and our ability to complete our mission because you can’t follow orders.”
U.S. Forces Korea leadership has also taken a hardline approach to civilians under their authority.
Last week, the command banned an American contractor from accessing all U.S. military installations on the Korean Peninsula for two years, effective April 14, after the individual failed to comply with an order to quarantine following exposure to COVID-19, the command said.
The contractor, who was based out of Camp Humphreys, had direct contact with a co-worker who tested positive for the virus, and was ordered to remain in quarantine to monitor for symptoms.
“The individual chose to non-comply with the quarantine directive and visited the PX and the commissary,” U.S. officials on the peninsula said in a statement.
Another civilian working for the Department of the Army at Camp Yongsan-Casey was observed by garrison town patrol visiting an off-post bar and was also banned from all U.S. installations on the peninsula effective April 17.
The COVID-19 situation in South Korea and on U.S. bases has been gradually coming under control thanks in large part to strict mitigation measures by both the host nation and U.S. military authorities.
In many cases, the two entities worked in concert to control the virus’ spread. In the city of Daegu, for instance, U.S. and Republic of Korea troops have conducted joint disinfecting operations to sanitize public areas.
An off-limits order for the city of Daegu was lifted last week and the urban area is no longer considered a hot spot for the virus, though current health protection measures and local restrictions still apply, officials said.
South Korea has been praised for its ability to contain COVID-19 by instituting drive-through test sites, temperature checks and sanitation measures early on in the pandemic. After reaching a peak of about 900 new COVID-19 cases per day in late February, the rates have now dropped to roughly 12 per day this week.
Only two active duty service members have tested positive for COVID-19 on the Korean peninsula so far, U.S. Forces Korea officials said last week.