Air Force to DC Employees: No Drinks Around Inauguration

By Benjamin Wittes
Friday, January 6, 2017, 8:50 AM

Hold off on that toast to the Commander in Chief.

From the Be Careful How You Word Things Department comes this amusing Air Force order banning, among other things, "consumption of alcohol by military members" in the period immediately around the inauguration:

Issued by the Air Force District of Washington (AFDW) and the 320th Air Expeditionary Wing (320 AEW), the order has the presumably laudable goal of making sure Air Force personnel are recallable in the event of some emergency and not hung over when they return to work.

But the document is, shall we say, a little overbroad in its coverage. It is apparently meant to cover only those people working "in support of the 2017 inauguration mission." But its Purpose section goes a bit beyond that. It states that it aims to "ensure that all personnel conduct themselves at all times, whether on or off duty, in a manner befitting their standing as the public face of the Air Force."

The Applicability section is also pretty broad. It applies to "all Air Force military members . . . and Air Force civilian personnel . . .. assigned, attached, under the tactical or operational control, or otherwise supporting AFDW or the 320 AEW, in support of the 2017 inauguration mission within the JTF-NCR JOA." It is entirely unclear whether, grammatically speaking, the "in support of" language limits the scope of applicability only with respect to the civilian employees or also with respect to the military members.

What does the order ban? Among other things, no consumption of alcohol by military members between midnight on January 19 and noon on January 21. And all military members are subject to recall and need to be fit for duty. There's an exception for military members at official inaugural balls, who are allowed to have a drink. But the order warns that "the 'no consumption of alcohol' rule still fully applies to military members before the official Inaugural Ball begins, after it ends, and at any locations other than an official Inaugural Ball."