MPs in Korea focus on cutting losses that can put ID cards in wrong hands
Stars and Stripes October 25, 2004
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — Second Infantry Division identification cards are going missing at an average rate of more than 60 per month according to Military Police, who are anxious to stop them from falling into the hands of people wanting to access U.S. bases on the Korean Peninsula illegally.
2nd ID/Area I Provost Marshal Lt. Col. Patrick Williams said the division’s soldiers — 14,000 before 2nd Brigade Strike Force deployed to Iraq, 10,000 thereafter — lost more than 720 identification cards from Jan. 1 to the end of September.
The issue received increased attention after an article in a recent edition of Indianhead, the 2nd ID newspaper, suggested ID cards could be bought on the black market for up to $1,000.
The article quoted 2nd ID command Sgt. Maj. James Lucero saying: “It is very critical that soldiers don’t give or sell their ID to anyone, especially a non-military person … For soldiers who sell their ID card they will absolutely be punished to the fullest extent possible.”
However, Williams, who also was quoted in the article, said Thursday that he was not aware of any soldier selling an ID card, of black-market sales of the cards or of people trying to get on post with another person’s military ID. There had been incidents of people trying to get onto bases with false civilian ID, he said.
“There have been no cases of ID cards being sold. That hasn’t happened. Every one [that goes missing], the guy has lost control of it,” he said.
2nd ID spokesman Maj. Mike Lawhorn, who oversees production of the Indianhead, said the goal of the stories was to make soldiers aware that the potential is there for people to try to acquire ID cards illegally.
“It is not that we have been told that person X is trying to get it, but with the added emphasis on force protection it is just one piece of the puzzle,” he said.
Emphasis on keeping track of ID cards is part of stepped-up force protection at 2nd ID facilities, Williams said.
U.S. Forces Korea officials cited U.S. Embassy terror warnings as the reason for a Peninsula-wide 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for USFK personnel from Sept. 24 to Oct. 8. Second ID’s goal is zero tolerance for lost ID cards, Williams said.
“We don’t want any lost. One lost ID is too many,” he said.
Soldiers who lose their ID cards can be punished under the Uniform Code of Military Justice depending on the circumstances in which they lose their cards, he said.
Soldiers report losing cards in a wide range of situations, he said.
“One guy said the last time he used it was when he went to the library. Another guy said the last time he saw his card was in his room. Two hours later he didn’t know where it was,” he said.
No soldiers have admitted to losing their ID cards at bars or nightclubs in Tongduchoen, but it was unlikely that a soldier would own up to that if it happened, Williams said.
MPs include lost ID cards in blotter reports so commanders can address the issue if several soldiers from the same unit lose their IDs. The cards are sensitive items, in the same class as night-vision goggles or weapons, he said.
“The ID card is not your property. It is the government’s. These are things you just can’t lose without attention being paid to how it happened. When you lose it, go to the MP station [and report it missing],” he said.
The new ID cards are difficult to manipulate or alter and include a computer chip with the user’s personal details. Scanners allow gate guards to make sure the image on the card has not been altered since it was issued, Williams said.