Gen. Stanley McChrystal has told allies working at NATO's Kabul headquarters for the war in Afghanistan that the bar is closed.
The ban on drinking in McChrystal's headquarters is similar to a drinking ban that already applied to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for years.
A spokeswoman for the International Security Assistance Force, as the allied force is known, denied published reports that McChrystal's ban was imposed as a result of an air strike in Kunduz that reportedly killed an undetermined number of civilians.
"This has been a decision he's been considering for some time, so it is not directly related to Kunduz," said Lt. Commander Christine Sidenstricker, an ISAF spokesperson in Afghanistan. She said the intent of the ban is "to help troops remain focused on the mission and eliminate potential distractions."
Another defense official told ABC News that McChrystal's interest in imposing a ban has been in the works for awhile and the timing was coincidental with the Kunduz controversy. This official also said that no one particular issue prompted the ban, that it is all an effort on his part to maintain troops alert and perform at their best while in the war zone.
U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have long been banned from consuming alcohol under U. S. Central Command's General Order No. 1, a broad blanket order which imposes restrictions on U.S. troops serving in the Middle East, that among other things bans alcohol consumption. The restrictions are intended to ensure that the behavior of U.S. troops is in line with the local Islamic traditions of the region.
NATO has 39,000 troops in Afghanistan and the ban applies to a small fraction of those troops who serve directly under McChrystal's command at the Kabul headquarters. There are 62,000 U.S. troops serving there.
More than 40 countries participate in the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Each country has its own rules for the military personnel there, including the consumption of alcohol. For example, British troops are not allowed to consume alcohol in Afghanistan unless they have special permission. But forces from other participating countries have no such restrictions.
The Bar Is Closed at Afghan War Headquarters
International troops assigned to the headquarters compound in Kabul had limited access to alcohol at several of the restaurants or dining facilities maintained by some of the participating NATO countries. For example, one facility serves as a coffee shop by day and offers some alcohol by night.