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AETC leaders issue Mexico travel restrictions

  • Published
  • By Alex Salinas
  • Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs
Leaders from Air Education and Training Command issued a memorandum Dec. 3 stating active duty, reservists and Guard members on active orders must get approval from proper channels before traveling to 11 restricted states in Mexico and anywhere along the entire U.S.-Mexico border.

The directive results from increased criminal activity from drug cartels that have killed more than 50,000 people since 2006 - with the death toll rising monthly - according to Mexican government officials.

Emergency and nonofficial travel to prohibited areas in Mexico may be approved, which usually involves family matters, but personal travel for leisure or vacation will not be approved.

Getting the green light for departure is a process that includes filling out an Exception to Policy form, receiving Advanced Distributed Learning Service training, getting a travel briefing from antiterrorism staff, formulating an individual travel plan and gaining approval from an O-6 or government service-equivalent in the chain of command, Mance Clark, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph antiterrorism officer from the 902nd Security Forces Squadron, said.

"The process ensures the safety of all Department of Defense members, including civilians and contractors who travel to Mexico in an official capacity," Clark said.

"Three years ago, the travel restrictions were placed just on border towns; then it escalated to the entire border region and now entire states," he said. "There's a lot of civil unrest in Mexico. It's become an internal turf war that has drug warlords fighting for territorial boundaries and our state department increased the scope (of restrictions)."

Randolph antiterrorism staff members give briefings to DoD service members and civilians who travel to nonprohibited areas in Mexico, especially on cruises, to map out individual plans for additional safety.

Approval for nonrestricted travel to Mexico can take three to four days.

"We're constantly looking at intelligence to check for the latest threats, changes to criminal modus operandi and the like," he said. "We ask people how their trip went so we can stay up to date."

Lately, there haven't been issues reported from people at Randolph who traveled to Mexico, Gerard Kinane, Air Force Recruiting Service antiterrorism officer, said.

"I've received good feedback from travelers about their experience, but I still recommend everyone to find as much information about their destination as possible, such as travel advisories," he said.

By visiting, provided by the Department of State, information collected from most countries about threats to safety, medical facilities and road conditions can be accessed.

Communication with supervisors when taking leave or vacation, especially in the process of traveling to a restricted area, is always the first step, Clark said.

Contact security managers or unit antiterrorism representatives for more information. To reach the Randolph Antiterrorism Office, call 652-1357/1904.