Taking leave to a foreign country
NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI – Being stationed in Asia Pacific provides great opportunities for travel to nearby countries for leave. But before going on leave to a foreign country, service members must follow a specific pre-travel process to ensure a successful trip.
This process is lengthy, requiring some running around. But it is well worth it when you are basking on a foreign beach or exploring an old Buddhist temple.
Throughout the process service members will need to contact their command Individual Anti-Terrorism Plan (IATP)/ Personnel clearance coordinator (leave coordinator), Isolated Personnel Report (ISOPREP) manager, medical personnel and possibly Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) personnel.
First, giving the leave coordinator early notification of your leave travel dates and destination country eases the process of getting required clearance checks before travel. The leave coordinator will know the lead-time and clearances needed for a country.
The lead-time needed for the clearance process is based on the destination country. Some require a special area clearance approval from the Department of State through the Aircraft and Personnel Automated Clearance System in advance with the country’s required lead-time.
Next, service members must complete two online trainings: Level 1 Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection (ATFP) awareness training and a Survival, Evasion,
Resistance and Escape (SERE) 100.1 Level A Code of Conduct training. The trainings are valid for one and two years, respectively.
The Code of Conduct training is not mandatory, but should still be completed even when not going on leave. It can take up to 15 hours to complete.
The completion certificates for each course should be printed out; they will be needed later in the process. It’s a good idea to create a pre-travel file for such paperwork.
Service members will also need a medical brief.
“It is a vital part of the process because it is the part where we give them medical information pertaining to the country they are going,” explained Petty officer 3rd Class Joey Mei, of Preventive Medicine department at Branch Health Clinic Atsugi. “Some things we discuss are physical hazards, diseases that are epidemic to the area and how to mainly protect themselves from waterborne, foodborne and more importantly infected-borne diseases from insects.”
Service members will learn what vaccines or immunizations may be required during their medical brief. Afterward, they will receive a certificate to add to their pre-travel file.
For the next step, service members need to fill out their Isolated Personnel Report and have it validated by the command personnel report manager.
“The purpose of the ISOPREP is to provide details about one’s appearance and characteristics if one should ever become missing in action,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Eleuterio Santana, NAF Atsugi command ISOPREP manager.
The report should be updated and validated every six months and hand carried to the manager, since it contains sensitive personal data.
Afterward, a travel tracker, or an Individual Anti-Terrorism Plan, can be completed online. It’s best not to purchase a ticket until this step is completed, in the event clearance is denied.
While inputting travel information, service members also need to have the training certificates and medical brief certificates on hand to enter in the date completed and certificate number for each. It’s also important to select the right command name provided by the command leave coordinator.
The next step is to submit an E-Leave request online. Since some destinations require additional briefs like human rights training, check with the leave coordinator for a list of all the training and briefs needed for each destination country.
After filling out the E-Leave, an Area of Responsibility Location Specific brief should be set up with the leave coordinator. Make sure to bring all the required certificates and passports of all travelers. If a flight itinerary is available bring it as well.
The leave coordinator will submit a personnel clearance request and receive an approval or disapproval. Once the approval is received and the leave request has been signed off, it is best to register with the U.S. Embassy in your destination country through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) on the State Department’s travel registration website. You can also subscribe to receive e-mail updates and travel alerts about the country.
Before leaving, make sure to have all relevant paperwork for travel placed together; it may prove useful while on leave.