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Cablegate: Naha Hosts Sia Military Passport Courier Training

VZCZCXRO2753
PP RUEHNH
DE RUEHNH #0078/01 2460221
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 020221Z SEP 08
FM AMCONSUL NAHA
INFO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0986
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0981
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0097
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 1046

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NAHA 000078

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR CA/OCS/ACS/EAP MEENA KORFF
DEPT FOR CA/PPT/SIA PAULA CARTER
TOKYO FOR CBP/ED BAYRON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC CMGT CPAS JA
SUBJECT: NAHA HOSTS SIA MILITARY PASSPORT COURIER TRAINING

1. (U) SUMMARY: ConGen Naha in coordination with State
Department Special Issuance Agency (SIA) and Department of
Defense hosted a Military Passport Agents' Training Conference
on Camp Foster Marine Base August 19-20 in Okinawa, Japan. Over
40 military passport agents from military installations
throughout Japan, Korea and Hawaii, and staff from U.S. Embassy
Seoul, Tokyo and ConGen Naha participated in the training. The
conference also provided an occasion for Consul General Ray Baca
to conduct public outreach in Okinawa on new Visa Waiver travel
rules and facilitate a meeting between SIA and the largest
military passport courier in Okinawa. END SUMMARY.

MILITARY COURIERS PROVIDE AN INVALUABLE SERVICE
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (U) Naha is home to approximately 50,000 U.S. service members
and their families. Passport acceptance agents from 6 military
installations throughout the island accept official, no-fee
dependent and tourist passport applications. Couriers deliver
the applications for tourist passports to the Consulate on a
weekly basis.

3. (U) During the two-day conference, U.S. Embassy Tokyo Consul
General Ray Baca reminded participants of the valuable role
passport couriers play in providing quality customer service to
our military members and their families. On Okinawa alone,
monthly military couriers accept approximately 80-100
applications for official passports and 100-200 for tourist
passports. The U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa Birth Registration
Office administered oaths and aided in preparation of more than
1000 Consular Reports of Birth Abroad applications in 2007.
Through offering courier services, the military saves couples
with newborn children the trek to the Consulate to fill out this
vital paperwork. Without these services, applicants would need
to appear in person at the Embassy or Consulates and customer
service would suffer, Consul General Baca told conference
participants.

CONFERENCE A HUGE SUCCESS
-------------------------

4. (U) Conference participants noted the two-day training
provided an excellent opportunity for State and DOD personnel to
exchange ideas and techniques for improving customer service and
better handling the needs of our service members and their
families. The conference included sessions on the Foreign
Clearance Guide, passport application forms and acceptance
procedures, and laws affecting issuance of passports to
children.

CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION LENDS A HAND
------------------------------------------

5. (U) Edward Bayron, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Assistant Attache assigned to Embassy Tokyo attended the
conference. With over a decade of experience on immigration
matters, Bayron provided insight on immigration issues and U.S.
border management. In addition to detailing the role of CBP and
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) overseas,
Bayron explained entry procedures and requirements for new Legal
Permanent Residents (LPR) and immigration rules that apply to
U.S. citizens, visitors and green card holders.

6. (U) Outside of the conference, CBP's Bayron and Consul
General Baca were interviewed by the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper on
the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) for Visa
Waiver Program travelers set to take effect January 12, 2009.

CAMP FOSTER'S IPAC IS BACK ON TRACK
-----------------------------------

7. (SBU) ConGen Naha's largest military passport courier Marine
Corps Base Camp Foster Installation Personnel Administration
Center (IPAC) has faced continued difficulties in obtaining
official passports. In early 2008 IPAC was not in compliance
with all the requisites to fully process official passport
applications to the satisfaction of SIA. This led to some of
the applications being rejected. In April 2008, CONOFF and
Consul General Baca met with representatives from IPAC to
discuss the issue. Since that time, IPAC sent two Marines in
May to attend the SIA passport courier training in Washington.
From June, a new director assumed management responsibilities at
IPAC. CONOFFs met with IPAC leadership again on August 1, 2008,
to discuss the issue and also scheduled a meeting between IPAC
leadership and trainers from SIA and DOD for August 20, 2008.

8. (SBU) On August 20, representatives from IPAC, SIA, ConGen
Naha, AmEmbassy Tokyo and DOD discussed outstanding issues

NAHA 00000078 002 OF 002


related to IPAC's processing of official passport applications.
SIA reiterated their requirements for the approval of official
passport applications. They also requested that official travel
orders accompany all applications. In order to meet the needs
of the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) if travel orders are not
available at the time the passport application is submitted, SIA
advised IPAC to send a justification letter stating the nature
of the travel and the justification for the official passports.
SIA agreed to monitor passport applications submitted by IPAC
and direct lines of communication were established between IPAC
and SIA.

9. (SBU) The meetings were particularly useful in moving all the
parties toward a resolution of the issue. ConGen Naha will
continue to offer support and training to IPAC. Two employees
from IPAC attended the August SIA training, and will serve as
backup passport acceptance agents. After the conference, the
trainers toured the IPAC facility, met individually with 3 of
the 4 IPAC military passport agents and the director of IPAC to
review official passport application policy and discussed some
specific cases which had been rejected. COMMENT: U.S. Marine
Corps Base Camp Foster is home to the Marine Corps Command for
all Marines assigned to Japan. The Marine Expeditionary Unit is
considered the "911" emergency force for the Pacific and Marines
are often called upon to react to situations throughout the
Pacific in a short period of time. It is critical Marines
assigned to the MEU who require and are authorized to obtain
official passports can do so in a timely manner. Their duties
often require them to be able to deploy via MIL or CIV air on
short notice. END COMMENT.

CONTINUED TRAINING IS NECESSARY
-------------------------------

10. (U) COMMENT: Post would like to thank Paula Carter from SIA
and Eugenia Doran and Megan Ogborn from DOD for their invaluable
training. It is critical new service members assigned to
military passport agent offices receive adequate training.
Given the large number of military passport couriers throughout
Japan and Korea, post strongly recommends SIA and DOD consider
annual training held in Japan and/or Korea. END COMMENT.
MAHER

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