Program to Expedite Security for Troops at Reagan Airport
By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 7, 2012 Some service members traveling out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport soon will be able to speed through security as part of a joint Defense Department and Transportation Security Administration program.
In cooperation with the Defense Department, TSA is expanding its trusted traveler program, known as Pre-Check, to include active duty service members and activated Guard and Reserve members traveling on domestic flights out of the airport, officials announced on a conference call today.
“This program is good news for our service members,” Paul N. Stockton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and Americas’ security affairs, said on the call. “It recognizes their service defending our country, and … it will enhance their travel experience by making it easier whenever possible.”
In the coming weeks, eligible service members -- whether in uniform or not -- will be able to present a valid common access card, better known as a CAC, to a TSA officer in the Pre-Check lane to see if they qualify for expedited screening, TSA spokesman Kawika Riley explained on the call. If they qualify, they’ll be able to pass through security without having to remove certain items, such as shoes or boots, belt, jacket or laptops.
By offering expedited screening to lower-risk travelers, TSA can allocate resources to areas of higher risk, Riley explained. “We’re talking about a population we trust to defend this country, to defend this country’s security,” he said. “It makes sense for that reason. This is a known and a trusted population.”
TSA continues to explore Pre-Check’s expansion to additional groups who could benefit from expedited screening, such as military family members, he added.
TSA selected Reagan National for its high volume of military travelers, Riley said, noting that, on average, more than 400 active duty service members fly out of the airport each day.
Overall, TSA has successfully screened more 460,000 passengers through Pre-Check since its launch late last year, he said. The program is operational in nine airports, he added, with plans to expand to a total of 35 by the end of the year.
Stockton said he looks forward to the TSA-DOD program’s future expansion to other airports. “The DOD is fully committed to continuing its long-standing partnership with the Homeland Security Department and TSA to strengthen aviation security,” he said.
This program, he added, enables TSA not only to focus its resources on potentially higher-risk areas, but also offers the nation a tangible way to recognize troops’ service and sacrifice.
“We’re enormously grateful to the members of the armed forces for what they do at home and abroad for the nation,” Stockton said.