ABERDEEN, United Kingdom - Moving is a stressful time. For service members, this experience means the total upheaval of their whole life — a new job, new base, children moving to a new school, maybe a new country and culture, new friends, and beloved pets being shipped to a new location. Then, of course, there are the contents of the service member’s home and the requirement to entrust someone to care for everything they own.
That’s what most service members think about when it’s time to move to a new base. However, while packing and preparing for a move, many people fail to consider what can’t be seen. Through one tiny seed remaining attached to a garden spade, a spider hiding in a watering can, contaminated soil on the leg of a garden chair or hamburgers forgotten in the bottom of a cooler, members could inadvertently be putting their new home country in serious danger.
There are procedures to follow in order to protect both countries — departure and arrival.
For all Department of Defense military and civilians assigned to RAF Mildenhall, RAF Lakenheath and RAF Feltwell who ship household goods to the continental United States from the U.K., the 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron Quality Assurance office personnel are there to protect the countries’ borders by conducting high-risk agricultural inspections. There are also inspection programs at RAF Alconbury, RAF Croughton and RAF Menwith Hill.
“We are employed by the 100th Mission Support Group’s 100th LRS,” said Donald Fox, 100th LRS, Quality Assurance inspector from Three Oaks, Mich. “However authority of the military pre-clearance program is given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Customs and Border Agency via U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army Provost Marshall.”
The purpose of the inspections are to allow Fox and his team to pre-clear military household goods shipments through U.S. Port of Entry Authorities and to minimize inconvenience to DOD personnel, while adhering to all U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Department of Agriculture laws and regulations.
If members are moving to the CONUS, and they wish to ship high-risk items in their household goods, they will be inspected — zero to five days prior to the pack-up date.
“We look for insects, grass, soil and leaves on outdoor items such as lawnmowers, weed eaters, patio furniture and yard decorations,” Fox said. “In the case of a barbeque grill, we also look for food material and by-products (grease).”
Items must be completely clean and free of these things to be shipped in household goods.
The quality assurance office conducts inspections at residences throughout all of East Anglia. The aim of the inspections is to eliminate the introduction of agricultural pests, disease and the flow of illegal drugs and contraband from the U.S. European Command area of responsibility into the CONUS through DOD-sponsored transportation.
Inspections are only conducted when a member is moving from an overseas station to the CONUS. Similar inspections should be conducted from any overseas station. Responsibility of ensuring the inspections is successful lies with the service member.
“The member can make the inspection successful by ensuring their items are clean and ready to inspect on the agreed appointment date,” Fox said.
Chief Master Sgt. Randy Ymker, 100th MSG superintendent from Kay Warden, Iowa, was inspected May 22, 2013, prior to his household goods being collected. “It’s very important to keep all the weeds and bugs native to this country, separated — and we don’t want to take anything home with us,” Ymker said.
Service members devote their lives to keeping their home country safe. It is the job of the 100th LRS Quality Assurance office personnel to ensure the U.S. is kept safe from a different threat.