Some 100 soldiers and unit leaders remained on a restricted lockdown for a sixth day at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state on Monday while Army investigators probed the theft of sensitive optics equipment, a base spokesman said. The missing gear includes hundreds of night-vision goggles and missing weapons accessories worth about $630,000, said Major Chris Ophardt, a spokesman for the U.S. Army’s I Corps at the base, about 9 miles south of Tacoma.
Ophardt said base confinement is an extreme measure 0f punishment meant to elicit information.
First, I hope that MAJ Ophardt was misquoted. I’d expect a field grade officer to realize that punishment may not be imposed without action under the UCMJ.
Restricting a unit to barracks is a perfectly normal, and perfectly legal step to take during the investigation of missing equipment. My company returned from Pinon Canyon training one time for a weekend break. We’d left the vehicles there, but returned with all our weapons, optics and sensitive items. Well, almost all. One of the other platoons somehow managed to leave a Dragon missile night sight behind. It was locked up in its Bradley, but no one was going anywhere until we had it in hand, and secured in our company arms room. So off went the absent minded soldier, and his platoon sergeant in the CO’s Humvee. A five hour round trip later, the night sight was accounted for, and locked up with the rest of our gear. And we finally were released for the weekend.
Thankfully, I’ve never been part of a unit that lost a weapon, but it’s not unheard of for a company to spend up to 30 days under lockdown until the weapon is recovered.