SIERRA VISTA — Soldiers at Fort Huachuca have been ordered to stay away from two local businesses that Army commanders say could negatively impact their troops.
In a Nov. 18 memo titled “Off Limits Order,” Maj. Gen. Laura Potter, wrote: “This order places the following establishments ‘off limits’ to all Fort Huachuca military personnel effective immediately.”
The two businesses are Sophie’s Smoke Shop and Slick’s Shuttle Service.
In the letter, Potter states, “Sufficient cause indicates these establishments are adversely affecting the health, safety, morals, welfare, morale and discipline of the Fort Huachuca Armed Forces personnel.”
The two businesses are the only ones troops have been ordered to stay away from in the city at the moment, said Fort Huachuca spokeswoman Tanja Linton.
Soldiers who violate the off-limits order are “subject to disciplinary action per applicable Service regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” Army regulation 190-24 states.
Concerns were raised about Sophie’s Smoke Shop — which features an ad with a woman holding a cigar and a seal underneath her image that says “Veteran Approved” — because of “some of the products they were selling to personnel,” Linton said.
“There were sales of urine-cleansing products and CBD products that contained THC,” Linton said. “Needless to say, we don’t want our soldiers having these products.”
As for Slick’s Shuttle Service — where the website says, “Owned and operated by a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps” — the problem was a “safety issue,” Linton said.
“(There were) traffic and safety violations,” Linton said.
An employee at Sophie’s and the owner of Slick’s, disagreed with the assessments, saying Army officials are unfair and ill-informed.
“I’ve never seen the commander in here,” said Sophie’s salesperson Cody Guerra. “I’ve seen Army guys that have come in here.
“Why would the commander be against anything that would mellow out or bring the soldiers down? That seems very un-Army-like,” added Guerra.
Guerra, who also said he had served in the U.S. Army for four years, was unaware of the off-limits restriction placed on the store. He said he had not been informed about it by the owner or manager.
Kent Bradley, owner of Slick’s, was equally miffed. “A totally unqualified person at the base made this complaint. We are on that list because of a problem with seatbelts and commercial plates on our vehicles. The complaint was made by someone on the base who does inspections on vehicles.”
Concerns and complaints about a business or facility are normally presented by the soldiers themselves, their family members or commanders, Linton said. But in order for an establishment to be considered off-limits to the armed forces, the complaints and concerns raised must be plentiful and significant.
“This is serious,” Linton said. “There have to be a number of complaints...”
The complaints and concerns are then looked at by the Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board (AFDCB), a panel that “may be established by installation, base, or station commanders, to advise and make recommendations to commanders on matters concerning eliminating conditions which adversely affect the health, safety, welfare, morale, and discipline of the Armed Forces,” the Army regulation shows.
Also, an off-limits restriction may be issued to prevent soldiers “from being exposed to or victimized by crime–conducive conditions, the Army regulation states.
But before a business is investigated by the AFDCB, an installation commander such as Potter would first try to remedy the situation at the establishments in question with the help of other community leaders. Additionally, before the business is deemed off-limits, the AFDCB would send a letter to the establishment regarding the concerns.
The notice would include a “reasonable” time for the condition or situation to be corrected, along with the opportunity to present any relevant information to the AFDCB, the Army regulation shows.
If subsequent investigation reveals that the business hasn’t taken any action, the AFDCB would recommend the off–limits restriction, the Army regulation states. A person whose establishment or area has been declared off–limits may, at any time, petition the president of the AFDCB to remove the off–limits restriction.
The president of the AFDCB could ask for an investigation to determine the status of corrective actions noted in the establishment’s petition. The panel could either recommend lifting or continuing the off-limits designation, to the local installation commander based on the results of the investigation.
Bradley said he petitioned the AFDCB and has “been arguing with them for over a year.” The board meets quarterly and is made up of “different units and organizations within the Fort,” Linton said.
Linton said Slick’s did come before the AFDCB, but the off-limits restriction was upheld. No one from Sophie’s Smoke Shop came before the AFDCB to present their case, she said. The manager/owner of Sophie’s could not be reached for comment for this story.