Navy Customs speeding up redeployment process

Sgt. Keith VanKlompenberg
139th MPAD, 13th SC(E)

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Going through customs can be a painful process, but thanks to Sailors at Joint Base Balad, that process is just a little bit easier.

The Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group, D Company, works with redeploying units to provide customs inspections before they reach Kuwait, so service members can get home sooner.

“It cuts the work in half down in Kuwait,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Bridges, “and with the number of people there, it’s a big deal.”

Bridges, a customs inspector with the Naval Reserves unit, said once a unit’s connexes have been inspected for contraband, they will stay sealed until they reach their final destination.

“For the most part, if we inspect it here, they won’t inspect it there,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class David W. Hartford, a native of Brunswick, Maine.

Hartford said the customs agency in Kuwait will sometimes randomly inspect 10 percent of a unit’s equipment, but most of the time they simply verify that the numbers on the seals match those on the paperwork.

 Bridges said while the inspectors work to make the inspection process as quick and easy as possible, redeploying units can do their part to make it go even faster.

Units should call Navy Customs and schedule an inspection for seven to 10 days before they are scheduled to fly out, said Bridges, and provide a point of contact in case of scheduling conflicts or flight changes.

On the day of inspection, units should get ready at least 30 minutes in advance by pulling all equipment out of the connexes and making sure the connexes are properly cleaned, said Bridges, a native of Fort Ashby, W. Va.

“Our main goal is to keep things sterile,” said Bridges.

“It’s important to clean all the dirt and residue in the connex and tape up the vents to prevent critters from getting in,” said Hartford.

Hartfort said units often think the inspectors are just looking to contraband, but a large part of the job is making sure no dirt or insects from Iraq make it the United States because they could damage the ecosystem.

“Our goal is to protect the US from harmful and intrusive entities,” said Hartford

Bridges said units can either bring connexes and equipment to the B6 Navy Customs inspection center here or arrange to have a team of inspectors work at the unit’s own site.

“The whole thing is customer service,” he said.


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Navy Customs inspectors provide an amnesty brief to redploying Soldiers prior to inspecting the unit's equipment for prohibited items.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Petty Officer 2nd Class Jimmie Crockett)

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Petty Officer 2nd Class David W. Hartford, of Brunswick, Maine, inspects documents for contraband prior sealing the tote for shipment back to the redeploying unit's home station.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Petty Officer 2nd Class Jimmie Crockett)

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Sailors from D Co. of the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group perform full inspections of equipment and personal items for redeploying units so they don't have to go through a detailed inspection in Kuwait.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Petty Officer 2nd Class Jimmie Crockett)