TSA Precheck can speed travel for military, DOD civilians

FILE - In this March 17, 2016, file photo, travelers authorized to use the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck expedited security line at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle have their documents checked by TSA workers. Service members are already enrolled in TSA Precheck, but many do not know they are. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

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FILE - In this March 17, 2016, file photo, travelers authorized to use the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck expedited security line at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle have their documents checked by TSA workers. Service members are already enrolled in TSA Precheck, but many do not know they are. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

If service members are trusted to defend the nation, surely they can be trusted when boarding a plane.

That is the thinking of the Transportation Security Administration, which is pushing to ensure service members and Department of Defense civilians know they can use the TSA Precheck program.

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“Service members are already enrolled in TSA Precheck, but many do not know they are,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a recent interview.

Pekoske, a retired Coast Guard vice admiral, wants all those who are eligible to use this free program.

Smart security

All service members of all components of the armed forces and students at the armed forces’ service academies are automatically enrolled in TSA Precheck. Their DOD ID numbers – a 10-digit number that should be on the back of your Common Access Card – serve as their Known Traveler Numbers.

Civilian employees must opt into the program using milConnect website at https://milconnect.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect/. Their DOD ID number is also their KTN.

Again, there is no cost for military members or civilians. For the general public that enrolls in the program, the cost is $85.

“This is a real benefit for being a member of the armed forces, and it is good for us from a security perspective,” Petoske said.

To obtain their positions, service members and DoD civilians undergo background checks, and most have security clearances. They are trusted to carry weapons in defense of the United States or to safeguard America’s secrets. So the TSA decided that there was no need for them to take off their shoes and belts at a checkpoint to get on an aircraft.

Using TSA Precheck

All travelers must add their DOD ID number to their Defense Travel System profiles to access TSA Precheck while on official travel, but eligible service members and civilians can also use it on personal travel, Pekoske said.

“If you go on any airline website, when you are making flight reservations, there is a box for the KTN and that is where they put their DOD number in,” he said. “Once you put the number in – especially if you are a regular flyer on that airline – every time you make a reservation, or a reservation is made by the DOD travel service for you, they will automatically pick up that number.

“The effort makes sense from an agency perspective and it is also a way to say thanks to members of the military and the civilian members of DOD and the Department of Homeland Security who sacrifice so much,” Pekoske said. “It’s a really good program, and it provides a direct benefit to those who keep us free.”

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