POETs promote an honest port

31 Mar 2008 | Lance Cpl Paul Torres

Coalition forces have sacrificed a lot to try and rid the Anbar province, Iraq, of insurgents. Now they are working just as hard to make sure they cannot come back in.

The Port of Entry Team, Iraqi Security Forces Transition Team, Multi National Force-West met recently with the passport office at the port of entry at al-Waleed to discuss operations and check on their progress.

“When we patrol into the port, we check to make sure the people working there have their badges properly displayed,” said Cpl. Joshua R. Woods, 22, from South Haven Mich., who is a motor transportation chief for the POET in al-Waleed. “We also make it a point to check for fake passports, but that isn’t really a problem anymore.”

Al Waleed port is one of the busiest ports of entry in Iraq and so it is important for security to be tight.

Every person who travels through the port has to go to the passport office, where they go through a security checkpoint before being allowed to enter the country.

“We are just there to reinforce the rules of the port, especially the badge rule, which keeps unauthorized personnel from operating in the port,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Harun C. Lucas, 32, from Clarksburg, Md., who is a corpsman and passport and residency mentor with the POET.

The badge rule requires every port employee to wear an identification card on the outside of their uniform.

 “There are some employees who haven’t received badges yet, so they are supposed to carry documentation that can identify them,” said Wood.

“The Iraqis like having the badges because it gives them social standing to be working with Coalition forces and the Iraqi government,” said Harun.

A new crew from the port in Trebil, Iraq, has been working in the passport office in al-Waleed to help ensure security.

New equipment and better security regulations have helped protect the Iraqi border from unwanted people slipping through the cracks. There has also been a big push to cleanup all of the trash surrounding the port.

“It is an ongoing project to clean up the (area), so every time we come through we check on their progress,” said Wood. “For the port to really improve, the employees need to take pride in their area.”

The POET has made a significant effort to cleanup the port because it is the first thing Iraqis returning home will see.

“It would be good if the first sign of home they see looks nice,” said Wood.