By Mr. Lee Porterfield (Leonard Wood)August 24, 2017
This summer my 20-year-old daughter was planning a trip to Germany and Spain to visit friends who were studying abroad.
Of course, as her father, and having worked in the antiterrorism field most of my career, I was probably overly cautious and concerned for her safety.
I spent a lot of time with her, explaining the history of terrorist acts in those countries, the latest trends and tactics they use and actions and precautions she and her friends should take to help ensure their safety.
She was probably, like many people, very naïve about the dangers when traveling -- especially overseas.
She told me I was paranoid, everything would be fine, the threats weren't that bad.
I made sure she registered in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, was aware of the State Department website and was knowledgeable about the U.S. State Department issued Europe Travel Alerts that are still in effect through Sept. 1.
As a member of the Defense Department, there are certain requirements that must be met for traveling overseas.
Overseas travel guidance if you are PCSing, going TDY or leisure traveling can be found in Army Regulation 525-28, Personnel Recovery.
Soldiers and Army civilians shall complete a Pre-OCONUS Travel File survey no earlier than 90 days prior to OCONUS travel. This includes PCS, temporary change of station, TDY or leave.
Contracts that require travel outside the United States should be written to include provisions requiring compliance with theater entry requirements for personnel recovery.
Contractors may use Pre-OCONUS Travel File survey prior to OCONUS travel using the unit identification code that corresponds with their geographical area of employment. Coordinate with your security manager or antiterrorism officer to receive a country threat brief for the area you are visiting.
Each organization is supposed to have a designated Personnel Recovery Mission Software manager. You'll receive a certificate after completing the PRO-File on the NIPRNet.
In approximately 24 to 72 hours, the PRO-File converts to an Isolated Persons Report that can be accessed on the SIPRNet.
Your PRMS Manager can access the Isolated Persons Report and validate its completion, providing you with a memorandum.
Additional training requirements include:
-- PRO-File (must be completed within 90 days of travel) https://prmsglobal.prms.af.mil/prmsconv/profile/survey/survey.aspx
-- SERE 100 Training (must be completed within 24 months of travel) http://jko.jfcom.mil/
-- AT Level 1 (must be completed within the last 12 months) https://jkodirect.jten.mil
Additionally, here are some steps and resources that will help ensure you are aware and prepared for your overseas travel:
Assess the environment before travel
-- State Department travel warnings -- https://travel.state.gov
-- Combatant Command warnings or restrictions
-- Terrorist threat level
-- High crime rate areas
-- STEP -- Smart Traveler Enrollment Program -- https://step.state.gov/step/
References about personal protection
-- CJCS Guide 5260, A Self-Help Guide to Antiterrorism
-- CJCS Pocket Card, Antiterrorism Protective Measures
-- Antiterrorism Officer Handbook
-- Antiterrorism Enterprise Portal
Determine travel requirements
-- Soldiers and DA civilians complete Level-I AT Awareness Training
-- Family members ages 14 and older traveling outside CONUS on official business complete Level-I AT Awareness Training
-- Encourage Family members to complete Level-I Training before any overseas personal travel
-- Country/Region specific training
-- Determine requirement for a Country Clearance
My daughter had a great time visiting Germany and Spain with her friends, and their travels were safe due to a lot of preparation before they traveled.
She texted me the other day after the horrific terrorist attack in Barcelona, the same place she had visited this summer. She said, "you were right."
I believe the whole experience has opened her eyes to the importance of being informed, aware of your surroundings and the importance of prior planning and precautions.
I wish I wasn't right, but unfortunately that is the reality of the world we live in today. So prepare yourself and your Family when planning overseas travel.
(Editor's note: Porterfield is an antiterrorism officer for the Fort Leonard Wood and Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Antiterrorism Office)