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Mass issuance of new ID cards; deadline nears

By Cpl. Daniel Thomas | | September 25, 2003

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The deadline for all active duty military, government employees and eligible contractors to get the new military identification card, known as the Common Access Card, is Tuesday.

In an effort to meet this deadline, the Pass and Identification Office is now open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Military and Department of Defense civilian employees who do not already have CACs should take their current government issued IDs to the Pass and ID Office as soon as possible.

DOD civilians and eligible contractors who have never been issued a government ID must bring valid identification and a completed Defense Department Form 1172-2 signed by a designated official.

"It would also help if individuals already had a (personal identification) number in mind," said Louise Bussell, station personnel ID assistant.

Bussell explained that the government is issuing the CAC throughout the DOD in an effort to implement secure methods of transmitting information electronically.

She said the PIN and the CAC will be required to send e-mails and log on to secure networks and Web sites in the near future. The PIN should be from six to eight digits and not be the user's date of birth, social security number or any other number that could be associated with the user.

Besides the PIN, the CAC boasts an array of technical advancements.

The credit-card -sized ID contains an integrated circuit chip, a magnetic strip, bar code and photo ID.

Embedded inside the circuit chip are three digital certificates: an e-mail signing certificate, an identity certificate and an e-mail encryption certificate.

The e-mail signing certificate will be used to digitally sign e-mails, while the e-mail encryption certificate will be used to encrypt and decrypt e-mails. The identity certificate will also be used to digitally sign documents and log on to secure networks.

Bussell said she has heard the CAC may also have other uses as well some day.

"In the future, the magnetic strip will possibly be used for entrance on to the flight line (for authorized personell)," said Bussell. "It is a universal card, and so the services have to decide on what they want to use it for. I've heard some chowhalls use it, and there's talk about turning it into a bank card."

Bussell said this was speculation, but the card definitely has the capabilities. She said for the time being, the main concern of the DOD is to get the card issued to everyone.

Although the card is a significant improvement over the former green ID, Bussell said there is one draw back.

"If the system is up and running, it takes only about 15 minutes to issue the CAC. But if the system is down, it could take up to an hour and a half," said Bussell.

Kathy Hernandez, the station's administration officer, suggests that station personnel go to the Pass and ID Office early to beat the lines.

"They can only process about 55 CACs a day," said Hernandez.

Hernandez said she estimates the station has approximately 800 personnel who still need the CAC. She recently sent out a list of names to each unit on station.

Staff non-comissioned officers are encouraged to send their Marines to the pass and ID office a couple at a time.

"Don't send Marines 20 at a time and expect them back soon," said Hernandez.

Station officials said the issuing of the CACs could turn out to be a long and arduous process. They ask station personnel to please have patience.

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