Why the Smart Traveler Program is a Smart Move for Security Clearance Holders

Security Clearance

Planning that long awaited Temporary Duty (TDY) or personal trip overseas, clearance holder? What must you–because you hold a clearance— do beforehand, and why? Most know to go down the hall to the security officer and tell him. Then what happens?

Our world is a complex, often confusing place. Every country has problems, and the reason you must have a pre-travel security briefing is for your safety. Because not only complexity and confusion reigns in our world, but change. Security situations abroad change, often daily, in many countries. Know about the place you are going as you thoughtfully plan your trip. But understand the situation you encountered as you planned your trip may not be the same one you experience as you prepare to leave.

Your security manager is usually responsible for your pre-travel awareness briefing. He should be on top of all the changes affecting your business and personal travel around the world. Some countries are in the news every day, others only when problems arise. Your security manager keeps tabs on such places, the better to advise you and help with your planning.

He can advise on Travel Warnings and Alerts issued by our United States Department of State. Such advisories exist to tell you of existing dangers, which perhaps might  even affect whether a trip be undertaken or not. Your personal or company liability can be in the balance, not to mention your safety. Do you know that the State Department also bans certain types of travel to various countries? Be aware of those places. Alerts advise on relatively periodic events, such as conflicted elections, demonstrations, heightened terrorism threats, strikes, and similar. You can find out about all of this at Country Information. Click on the countr(ies) you will visit, and learn all about them for smart traveling.

How to Enroll in STEP

Are you enrolled in STEP? The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is perhaps your smartest move. You can enroll through the State Department site, which tells you how to enroll your trip with the appropriate US embassy abroad. There’s nothing more reassuring than to be sure your trip is known by fellow Americans abroad in a position to help, if needed.

Finally, be sure to get a classified briefing on any terrorism dangers or threats of espionage. If your company doesn’t have a representative, call your local Defense Security Service. They’ll be glad to help.

John William Davis was commissioned an artillery officer and served as a counterintelligence officer and linguist. Thereafter he was counterintelligence officer for Space and Missile Defense Command, instructing the threat portion of the Department of the Army's Operations Security Course. Upon retirement, he wrote of his experiences in Rainy Street Stories.