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Unofficial travel - Learn rules before heading overseas, don’t go unprepared

  • Published
  • By Ken Knowles
  • 22nd ARW antiterrorism advisor
The Global War on Terror has transformed the way the Air Force prepares and executes its mission.

It has also changed the way Department of Defense members should prepare for travel, official or unofficial, outside the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and U.S. territories.

Travel for deployments, temporary duty assignments, and permanent changes of station is official travel and is set up by the Air Force to meet all the requirements necessary to travel outside the United States, but personal, or unofficial, travel is not. People are responsible for ensuring they've fulfilled the necessary requirements to travel outside the United States when they are traveling unofficially.

Air Force Instruction 36-3003, Military Leave Program, paragraph 4.8.4., instructs Air Force members to comply with foreign government procedures - as required by the Department of Defense Foreign Clearance Guide - to include any DoD travel security advisories.

The Foreign Clearance Guide may be accessed at

Another helpful link is the Department of State Travel Guide at

In some cases, these guides will link between each other for specific requirements, and they will also link to a combatant command sites such as the Air Force Pacific Command site, European Command site, etc., when that combat command has additional requirements for personal unofficial travel into their area of responsibility.

It is essential military members contemplating unofficial travel outside of the United States consult the FCG as soon as possible in the early planning stages - preferably at least 60 days prior to travel.

Many countries require a personnel clearance request be sent to the respective combatant command in message format 30 days prior to a person entering the country.
Some locations may require a personal anti-terrorism travel plan coordinated through a colonel in the person's chain of command and then through a combat command.

Anyone desiring to travel to an area of the globe considered to be in force protection condition Charlie may have to submit their personal travel plan to the first brigadier general in their chain of command - for the 22nd Air Refueling Wing this means submitting and coordinating the leave travel request with the 18th Air Force commander before it is sent forward to the combatant commander.

The bottom line is the world has changed, and before traveling outside the friendly borders of the United States, it's imperative people fulfill their administrative responsibilities to enter other countries. In addition to complying with the FCG requirements, military members must ensure their anti-terrorism awareness training, level one, is up to date. It also important military members share anti-terrorism awareness training information with any family members traveling with them.

Military members traveling outside the United States must contact the local detachment of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations at 759-4278 for a country specific briefing once their travel and leave requests have been approved.

Military members required to complete a personal anti-terrorism travel plan may contact the installation anti-terrorism office at 759-5085 for assistance.