What's the drinking age on military bases?

Are 17-20 yr old servicemembers allowed to drink on domestic military bases in the US? What about on navy ships during “Beer days”?

No, it hasn’t been legal for a while now. There used to be some wink-and-nudge overlooking of this policy, but I think it’s pretty much universally enforced now.

Anyone can tote around an M-16, but it takes an adult to handle a beer!

It’s not just on base either. US servicemen and women are not allowed to drink off post if they are under 21, REGARDLESS of the laws in that area.
For instance, the legal drinking age in Korea is 19. However, if a 20 year old soldier is found drinking off post, he will be in serious trouble.

And I’m not joking about the “serious” part. The military is pretty fucking ridiculous right now with their rules and enforcement of underage drinking!! … and alcohol related incidents in general.

This is a reflection of the military’s risk management approach to things, which is very black-and-white. The “101 Days of Summer” safety campaign (an annual feature of every office) always discusses the high-risk activities that become more frequent in the summer:

  • drinking
  • riding motorcycles & ATVs
  • boating
  • barbecueing

Each of these activities causes enough deaths within the military each year that they have gotten really amazingly strict about it. Getting drunk is fine – but getting drunk and then riding a four-wheeler, or driving a boat, is unacceptable. Since it’s already illegal for young servicemen to drink, the service can therefore eliminate this risk factor by stomping on the drinking.

While I still see officers have a beer or two after work on Friday while still in uniform, my impression is that drinking has begun to fall out of favor in the larger military. There are still frat-boy-types who will insist that a few beers won’t do any damage, but the general sentiment is that drinking should be done off-duty and off-base.

This is all regarding the CONUS forces, and disregards the front-line forces of the Army and Marine Corps. It’s my opinion that if you’re getting shot at, you should be able to have a beer at the end of the day if that’s what you want.

And that is no joke: one of the SPs just made life a little bit harder on the rest of us by deciding it would be cool to own a motorcycle. I wonder how cool he thinks it is now that he shattered his collarbone in an accident last weekend. We lost another guy in a very violent motorcycle accident last year. Not to put too fine a point on it, they picked him up with a sponge.

The younger set, particularly the single ones, find themselves in a position where they have more money than they know what to do with and free medical coverage. That makes for some seriously reckless behavior. Of course, the older people aren’t exactly exempt from that either (case in point: me), but they have less of an ability to influence my behavior than they do with the younger crowd, and as a result they really tighten the screws on the 18-20 year olds for their own good. Who can blame them?


What! My how the times have changed in so very few years. I was under 21 while stationed in Germany… and I’ll say I didn’t like beer at all until I got there! Labatt and Grupo Modelo and the homebrew shops at home would be quite peeved at the military for not having gotten me hooked!

Wish I’d had that problem when I was an enlisted soldier! In fact the contrary of that’s why I got out…

Combustable Liquids, Fire, Alcoholic Beverages, and young kids who LOVE explosions!!!
BBQing has everything an activity needs to be dangerous.

“Dude did you put enough on??”
“Almost man… I got one more thing of Charcoal Starter and that should be it. You think 8 bottles is enough??”
“Probably not. But lets light it and see”

“Dude, are you trying to signal the space shuttle?”

Yeah, it seems a bit counterintuitive, but think about it. During BMT you can’t spend any money so you have, as an E-1, about $2,000 when you get out. Add to that your signing bonus and you’ve got a few grand put away. When you deploy you generally don’t spend a whole lot (what’s there to buy in the desert?), and you also get BAH and BAS, plus you get flight pay if you’re a flyer. If you live in the barracks you don’t get BAH, but then again you don’t pay rent, either. Within the first two years of enlistment you should be able to make E-3, so you get those pay increases. And then you tack on per diem if you go places, and that can be pretty substantial.

So yeah, a single guy/girl can fund a whole lot of reckless behavior should they choose to. Some of my classmates in Tech School went skydiving regularly, with a few of them going enough to get certified, and that isn’t cheap.

When did this happen? I was with 3AD in Germany in 90-91 and this wasn’t the case. I was 19 and it was no problem to be drinking off post or to walk into the Class VI or shoppette and buy alcohol. Course, liquor was rationed but thats another story.

Let me tell you, PCS’ing from Germany to Hood a few months short of my 21st birthday sucked.

I think it happened just recently. Recently enough that there are still fliers on the clubs near base. So I’m guessing it was less than two years ago. Maybe more recent.
Korea is not the party fest it once was either. There is a midnight curfew, and a whole mess of places one is not allowed. These places pretty much include ALL of Korea except the approved clubs and shops right near post. And all of these clubs are full of psuedo-whore juicy girls. God I hate those clubs.

Looks like it was VERY recent - last October. But I also found that it was only a United States Forces Korea policy. Since this only effects the camps in Korea, US bases in other countries can still go by the old rules.
Here’s an article on it.