Commentary – Guard your card

Gen. David McKiernan
Commanding general, 7th Army and USAREUR

The loss or theft of a Department of Defense ID card is a serious matter, one that represents a significant security risk to the U.S. Forces in Europe. Each time an ID card is lost or stolen, the chance of an unauthorized individual obtaining access to our installations increases. It is therefore essential that cardholders take extra measures to protect their ID cards.

In addition to security concerns, cardholders should be aware of the danger of identity theft. ID cards have personal information that identity thieves can use to gain access to bank accounts, obtain credit cards, take out loans, and ultimately devastate the cardholder’s credit rating. For this reason, personnel are discouraged from frequenting establishments that hold ID cards as a security against payment of a tab. Not only is this a breach of security and regulatory guidance, it is an opportunity for identity thieves to copy personal information.

Leaders must stress the importance of ID card security at appropriate forums and in command and community publications. Commanders should remain aware of ID card losses and thefts by checking the daily military police blotter or using locally established leader-notification procedures. Depending on the facts, loss or wrongful disposition of an ID card by a Soldier may violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 108. If contemplating action under the UCMJ, commanders must consult their legal advisors and adhere to all provisions of Rules for Courts-Martial 303 and 306.

Cardholders must understand the importance of maintaining possession and control of their ID cards at all times. Personnel whose ID card is lost or stolen must report the loss or theft immediately to the nearest military police station. The military police will ensure that the ID card is invalidated in the Installation Access Control System so that it cannot be used to obtain access to installations. The military police will also issue a memorandum verifying that an official report of the loss or theft has been made. This memorandum must be given to the ID card-issuing office before the card can be replaced.

Lost and stolen cards must be reported and replaced as quickly as possible. Additional administrative procedures that would delay the reporting of a lost or stolen ID card and the issue of a new card (for example, requiring the commander’s authorization or the supervisor’s signature) are inappropriate.

Given the current world environment and the constant threat of terrorist attack, the security of our installations and our personnel is critical. By properly protecting our ID cards, we can help ensure that this security is not compromised.