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Letter to Chairmen Mica and Petri Regarding Treatment of Marines and Soldiers at Oakland International Airport

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On January 29, we issued a letter to Representative John Mica, Ranking Minority Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Representative Thomas Petri, Ranking Minority Member of the Committee's Aviation Subcommittee, regarding our review of an incident at Oakland International Airport on September 27, 2007. The lawmakers requested that DOT/OIG review why 204 Marines and soldiers traveling on a North American Airlines chartered flight were denied access to the airport terminal during a layover. The service men and women were en route from Iraq to their home base in Hawaii.

Our review found the following reasons for the action: (1) the airport's concern that the flight's ground staff could not provide an adequate level of escort and control of such a large group of military personnel in or around the terminal area; (2) absence of a coordinated policy for security screening between the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); (3) miscommunication about the proper storage and safeguarding of weapons carried on board aircraft during the layover; and (4) lack of communication on accommodating requests from Marines and soldiers to be allowed into the passenger terminal.

We recommended establishment of a task force comprised of representatives from the airlines, airports, the DOD, DHS and DOT to develop and implement a uniform process for handling members of the Armed Forces on all military chartered flights at U.S. commercial service airports.