SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Before submitting your leave and buying tickets for travelling abroad, there are several steps that must be taken before you can be cleared to leave.
The first step is to check and see if the country you’re travelling to is blacklisted, meaning off limits to U.S. military personnel or if there are certain restrictions to visiting that country.
To do this, simply go to travel.state.gov and you will be able to select what country you’re travelling to and view the current threats, if any, or any kind of advisories that go toward that country. The website also offers any passport information you would need.
“The State Department is the lead of determining where government officials can go,” said Air Force Office of Special Investigation Special Agent Brian Fitch. “If the State Department says U.S. persons cannot go here or there then you aren’t going to be allowed to travel there.”
There are multiple reasons certain countries would be deemed off limits to U.S. personnel.
“Terrorism or high-threat places with criminal entities are the primary concern,” Fitch said. “If the threat to you as a person is too high, then it’s not worth the risk of you going there.”
If the country you are travelling to isn’t restricted, then the next step would be to visit fcg.pentagon.mil and research that countries requirements for visiting there.
Next, a foreign travel brief from OSI is required and can be done with these steps.
1. Log into the Air Force Portal.
2. Search “Foreign Travel” in the search box.
3. Select result “foreign travel prebriefs and debriefs.”
4. On the next screen, click on either “prebrief or debrief.”
5. On the next screen click “Sheppard”
6. Fill out form and click SUBMIT.
“Once they fill out that questionnaire, it generates and email to this office,” Fitch said. “What we then do is based on where they are going and why, and then schedule them to have an in-person briefing with us.”
Using the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program found at step.state.gov/step is highly recommended.
“This program notifies the nearest U.S. Embassy that there will be a U.S. person there,” Fitch said. “If something happens, that embassy is notified and they know how to contact the person.”
The OSI office at Sheppard allows walk-ins for foreign travel briefings every Tuesday at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.