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    Expeditionary Logistics Support Group Helps fill U.S. Customs and Department of Agriculture Need

    Expeditionary Logistics Support Group Helps fill U.S. Customs and Department of Agriculture Need

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Jorge Saucedo | Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacquelyn Fink, storekeeper, from Williamssport, Penn., checks...... read more read more

    BASE IN THE MIDDLE EAST - When talking about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan you really don't think too much about how and by what means the military personnel are coming home. Five years ago the United States Navy took over the responsibilities of U.S. Customs and Department of Agriculture for military personnel leaving the combat zone back to the states.

    U.S. Customs is a Navy mission assigned to Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group which is a Navy Reserve Command. According to NAVELSG, reservists from 41 States, two territories, and one foreign country joined together in September 2008 to serve as forward element INDIA. Such a mission requires a great deal of upfront training and commitment on the part of the Sailors. The Navy requires a 12-month commitment which includes over a month of in-processing and training in Williamsburg, Va., plus boots on ground time conducting the mission. NAVELSG Forward INDIA is comprised of Navy reservists from many different reserve units who do not regularly work together. The billets are opened to any of the Navy's rates and require a range of ranks from lower enlisted to officers.

    After the initial training is completed, they are certified as Custom Border Clearance Agents. In theater they work 12-hour shifts which consist of searching carry-on baggage, stored baggage, searching flight occupants, or standing guard. There are several steps in the process. When first going through customs, service members receive a brief on what they can and cannot take home with them and amnesty procedures for items they wish to discard before their bags are inspected. After that they get searched and their baggage goes through x-rays to look for any unauthorized metal objects like ammunition or weapon magazines. To ensure a thorough examination bags get hand searched by Navy personnel for any unauthorized objects that the x-ray does not pick up. Service members are quarantined and not allowed to leave the facility until their bus arrives to take them to the airport for their flight. Despite the strict discipline Navy Customs must enforce as part of their duties, Sailors attached to the unit feel their role in a service member's transition stateside is important. "The most rewarding thing about being a part of Navy Customs is knowing we, as a whole, are the last faces these service members see prior to returning home," said Petty Officer 1st Class Jamie Lewandowski.

    Customs processes approximately 5,000-8,000 personnel a week who are en-route to the United States and ensure that no agricultural products or restricted items pass through. Lawrence Czarnowski, master-at-arms chief and Senior Enlisted leader of Bravo Company a native of Michigan, explains why sailors volunteer for this intense duty, "Our Sailors here take their job serious and take pride in being a part of this organization."

    After every chalk a group en-route to the United States, the amnesty items are recorded on file then disposed of within military regulations. The amnesty items are belongings that are unauthorized while in theater. The Navy has been playing a huge role in the War on Terrorism and Customs is one of the most important parts.



    Date Taken: 05.01.2009
    Date Posted: 05.01.2009 02:52
    Story ID: 33077

    Web Views: 795
    Downloads: 766