Photo Information

(Jan. 29, 2009) - Lance Cpl. Don Richardson, an M1A1 tank crewman with Battalion Landing Team 2/6, 26th Marine::r::::n::Expeditionary Unit, cleans some mud off of a tank, January 29. The MEU-wide wash down was conducted in order to prevent any foreign contaminants from entering the United States. After each vehicle was cleaned it was put through a thorough inspection before being cleared for entry into the US. (Official USMC photo by Cpl. Jason D. Mills)(Released)

Photo by Cpl. Jason D. Mills

Ag inspection ensures safety of US

14 Feb 2009 | Cpl. Jason D. Mills

Walking from vehicle to vehicle, container to container, the inspector painstakingly and methodically checks every nook and cranny for any sign of debris.

          To some this process seems a bit over the top, but those who understand what's actually going on know that without it, the United States agricultural system could be devastated.

          "The importance of an agricultural inspection is to ensure that … we do not introduce any type of foreign matter, material, insects into the United States as we redeploy," said Maj. Randal Jones, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit Logistics officer.

          Senior Chief Anthony Uzzi, the operations senior chief for C Co. Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group Forward, India, explained that inspectors check for anything that could bring potential damage to the US, from dirt, mud and bird droppings to wood bores and termites.

          Uzzi led a team of 22 inspectors in Kuwait for two weeks as MEU Marines cleaned their myriad vehicles inside and out to ensure they do not inadvertently carry foreign life forms back to the U.S.

          "We're trained by the US Department of Agriculture to inspect for dirt, infestations, pests, anything that could harm the agricultural production of the United States," he said. "Harmful bacteria, harmful pests could hurt our agriculture department. It's stuff that's maybe not in the US as it is."

          He continued, "We try to prevent those pests and bacteria and infestations and plant life to come into the US (because) it could be devastating."

          The MEU completed its unit-wide sustainment training in January, but portions of the MEU remained in Kuwait to conduct small-unit training. The wash down and inspection are part of the last leg of its 2008-2009 deployment.