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Although an end-of-the-month deadline approaches, there’s no rush at Marine bases in Japan to convert to the military’s new high-tech identification cards.

Most Marine personnel and civilian Department of Defense employees are already carrying the new Common Access Cards — commonly called CAC cards.

Everyone was supposed to have a new card in October, but delays in getting proper equipment and some technical glitches necessitated a deadline extension, officials said. On Feb. 20, Marine Corps officials set the April 30 deadline.

Because the cards have more capabilities than the old ID cards, it’s vitally important they’re issued and checked routinely to ensure data printed and embedded in the cards have not deteriorated, said Sgt. Roger Pratt, a CAC verifier at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station.

“One of the important reasons for the CAC cards is the public key infrastructure certificates,” Pratt said. “The PKI is used to access military Web sites and to send digitalized-signature e-mails.”

The PKI information is embedded in a 32-kilobyte computer chip. The data includes personal information, such as medical records, fingerprint information and personal identification numbers allowing access to DOD computers and e-mail accounts.

The Marines are outfitting computers with universal serial bus CAC readers and soon, typing a password into a computer could be as outdated as floppy disks.

“Those with the CAC cards may still want to stop by to make sure their card is completely up to date,” Pratt said.

Anyone with an unserviceable card should also visit their Installation Personnel Administration Centers for new cards, he said.

“Frankly, some people won’t meet the deadline,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Ferdinand Berrios, adjutant for Marine Corps Bases in Japan. “There are some people still coming out of basic training and … schools who are being issued the old green ID cards.”

Berrios said he’s making sure unit leaders in Japan issue CAC cards as Marines are checking in.

“I’d say … 65 to 70 percent of our Marines already have the CACs,” he said. “We have some stragglers, but there’s no rush going on at the IPAC to get the cards issued.

“It’s not like it was when we had the October deadline for mass issuance of the cards,” he said.


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