Ten Years of CENTCOM Customs Clearing Operations Complete

     Navy Expeditionary Logistics Group Forward (NAVELSG FWD) officially transferred its customs clearing and equipment inspection mission to the 387th Air Expeditionary Squadron during a ceremony at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, this past October.

     The Transition of Authority marked the conclusion of 10 years of support from NAVELSG FWD to the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM).

     “This is the final rotation of the Navy customs in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, and most likely for the war here,” explained Cmdr. Tony Erickson, commander, NAVELSG FWD.  “This was an Army mission that the Navy took complete ownership in from the start, developing traditions and pride, and now I have the privilege to see the transition.”

     Over the years, thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, civilians and their equipment have passed through customs gateway inspections prior to returning home.  Navy customs border clearing agents performed their duties throughout the Middle East with the same single focus, as frontline guardians of our nation’s borders.  Hundreds of forward-deployed Sailors performed as clearance agents; continuously watchful and alert to deter, detect, and prevent threats to our nation.

     The last rotation of Navy customs agents just recently left Kuwait.  Like many before, they packed up their items, mailed their last packages, enjoyed a final dining facility (DFAC) meal, made their last visits to the Morale, Welfare, Recreation (MWR) or USO facilities, and waited for their show time.  They got together, this time with U.S. Air Force assistance.

     Clearing customs, one of the final processes before people and equipment returned home, is extremely important.

     “The mission is critical because we’re not only protecting the United States from a myriad of potential dangers, but we’re also maintaining relationships with foreign countries by ensuring the U.S. doesn’t ship contaminated materials through their channels,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Johnstone, commander of the 387th Air Expeditionary Squadron.

     Many Navy Reserve Sailors have been one of these agents and often were excited to come back and perform the mission a second time.

     “This is one of the most talked about missions for the Navy Reservists across America,” Cmdr. Erickson said.

     NAVELSG is home ported in Williamsburg, Va., with an active battalion located at Cheatham Annex and forward-deployed detachments and reserve battalions located across the United States.  NAVELSG provides Sailors with the knowledge and skills needed to support the Fleet’s surface and air-handling mission.  More than 100 Sailors and civilians work  hand-in-hand with the Fleet and are dedicated to ensuring training is current and well executed on behalf of 3,500 active duty  and reserve Sailors in the administration, logistics and training of their active and reserve components.

By Cmdr. Leo Creger; Commander, Task Group 56.3 Public Affairs