U.S. Southern Command Theater Clearance Info
All DoD military (including USCG), civilian, and contractor personnel traveling on OFFICIAL BUSINESS into and within the U.S. Southern Command Area of Responsibility must obtain Theater Clearance approval from the Commander, U.S. Southern Command, and from the destination country prior to travel.
All DOD military and USCG personnel (active duty and reserve) traveling on LEAVE must obtain theater clearance approval (and country clearance approval, depending on where the traveler is going).
Contractors and civilians are not required to submit APACS requests for personal leave in SOUTHCOM’s AOR but are encouraged to register their travel with the Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (https://step.state.gov) for their own safety and security.
The Department of Defense Foreign Clearance Guide establishes the requirements for Theater Clearance approval. Theater Clearance requests will be completed via the Aircraft and Personnel Automated Clearance System (APACS).
NOTE: Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, quarantine policies, new or changed credential requirements, etc., contact the country clearance approver BEFORE submitting an APACS request. Even if your destination is one you recently visited, travel policies throughout our AOR change very rapidly. Two other good sources for current travel information are:
Centers for Disease Control: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices
State Dept. COVID-19 Traveler Info: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/ traveladvisories/ea/covid-19-information.html
US Southern Command Theater Clearance Steps
- Review the theater and country-specific information in the Department of Defense's Foreign Clearance Guide at www.fcg.pentagon.mil.
- Create an Aircraft and Personnel Automated Clearance Systems (APACS) account at https://apacs.milcloud.mil/apacs/. APACS is mandatory for processing DoD-sponsored official foreign travel and personal leave travel for active duty and reserve military in all Combatant Commands.
- Prior to OFFICIAL travel, all travelers must read General Order Number 1 - "Prohibited Activities for US Department of Defense and Certain US Coast Guard Personnel Present within the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR)". DOD personnel will also have to comply with security guidance and restrictions as specified by the Senior Defense Official.
- Complete online training requirements as specified in SECTION III.C. “MANDATORY PRE-TRAVEL TRAINING AND DOCUMENTATION” of the Foreign Clearance Guide and provide the completion dates on the APACS request.
- Complete medical assessment and requirements as specified in the Foreign Clearance Guide, and annotate the medical assessment/travel preparation checklist completion date (if required for the destination country) in the "Notes" section of the APACS request.
NOTE: 1: Per DoD "2015-2017 Guidance for the Employment of the Force," dated 25 February 2015, “All…agencies engaged in security cooperation activities will use the Global Theater Security Cooperation Management Information System (G-TSCMIS)." As per the SOUTHCOM Foreign Clearance Guide, personnel traveling into the SOUTHCOM Area of Responsibility (AOR) to conduct or support a Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) activity, involving US MIL (DOD representative to include civilians) - MIL engagements, US MIL-Security Forces (e.g., PAN & CRI) or US MIL-PN civilian agency, will enter such activity in G-TSCMIS. However, if you are an agency supporting an activity already entered into G-TSCMIS, contact the event owner to obtain that activity's ID number (example - You are a medical unit supporting a MEDRETE conducted by ARSOUTH. Contact ARSOUTH for the GTSCMIS ID#). TSC activities include, but are not limited to: JCETs, Mobile Training Teams, Subject Matter Expert Exchanges, Staff Talks, and Conferences. Personnel traveling to the AOR to conduct U.S. ONLY activities DO NOT need to enter the activity in G-TSCMIS and will annotate "Not in support of a TSC activity - US ONLY" in the Theater Specific Information section. Security Cooperation is defined as “any program, activity (including an exercise), or interaction of the DoD with the security establishment of a foreign country to achieve a purpose as follows: to build and develop allied and friendly security capabilities for self-defense and multinational operations; to provide the armed forces with access to the foreign country during peacetime or a contingency operation; or to build relationships that promote specific U.S. security interests.”
- AN APPROVED G-TSCMIS NUMBER MUST BE LISTED ON THE APACS REQUEST UNDER THE "THEATER SPECIFIC INFORMATION" SECTION OR SOUTHCOM WILL DENY THEATER CLEARANCE, and Security Cooperation Offices (SCO) across the AOR will ensure that events that fit the category of security cooperation activities, have been entered into G-TSCMIS prior to granting country clearance. For assistance with entering TSC activities into G-TSCMIS, USSOUTHCOM enablers should contact the SCJ54 TSCMIS Branch, and non-SOUTHCOM enablers (OSD, Services, NGB and others) should contact their G-TSCMIS Account Approving Official. Travelers may refer to the NIPR G-TSCMIS website at: https://gtscmis.dc3n.navy.mil to register for an account.
- Make sure your APACS request is submitted. If the status is “NEW” or “MODIFIED,” it will not be seen by any of the approvers – it must read “SUBMITTED. An APACS-generated message will be sent to the SUBMITTER’S email address and will state that the request is approved, denied, or requires more information and/or corrections.
- If you need to check the status of your APACS country/theater clearance request, please contact the country POC and/or the country’s APACS approver. Or, you can contact the Theater Clearance Office at (305) 437-3713/3364 or email them at email@example.com. Please have the APACS ID number and dates of travel readily available. We cannot locate a request with the traveler’s SSN, so please do not email it or add it to the APACS request, as it is PII. It is the responsibility of the traveler and APACS submitter to ensure that theater and country clearance approval (if required) is obtained prior to travel.
- If you need to check the status of your APACS country/theater clearance request, please contact the country POC and/or the APACS approver. Or, you can contact the Theater Clearance Office at (305) 437-3713/3364 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please have the APACS ID number and dates of travel readily available. We cannot locate a request with the traveler’s SSN, so please do not email it to us or add it to the APACS request. It is the traveler's/APACS submitter's responsibility to ensure that theater and country clearance approval (if required) is obtained.
A NOTE ON APACS REQUESTS FOR LEAVE
APACS requests for leave are reviewed in order of date of travel with the following exceptions:
- Emergency Leave (traveler may be asked to provide American Red Cross Authorization number)
- Military personnel stationed in the Middle East, as they have very little notice of upcoming leave and must have an approved APACS request in order to purchase airline tickets
Because of the high volume of APACS requests received by SOUTHCOM, travelers may not see immediate action by the Theater Clearance office. Therefore, we encourage units to approve leave forms, allow the purchase of airline tickets, etc., based on the submission - NOT the approval - of the APACS request.
There are three types of clearances as defined by the Department of Defense Foreign Clearance Guide: Country Clearance, Theater Clearance, and Special Area Clearance.
Country Clearance is granted by a foreign government through a U.S. Embassy for official travel to that country. The U.S. Embassy Chief of Mission (COM) may delegate country clearance-granting authority for DoD personnel to the U.S. Defense Attache Office (DAO) or another defense-related entity in country. Country clearance covers only the visit to the country specified and for the purpose requested. Country clearance requirements do not apply to: personnel in unified or overseas Service commands traveling to units of those commands, intra-theater troop movements, personnel deploying to support formally approved exercises or deployments, or aircrew members who perform aircrew duties exclusively.
Theater Clearance is granted by a geographic Combatant Command (or through a component commander or other delegated authority) for official travel to or within its geographic Combatant Command area of responsibility (AOR). Theater clearance requirements do not apply to: personnel in unified or overseas Service commands traveling to units of those commands, intra-theater troop movements, personnel deploying to support formally approved exercises or deployments, or aircrew members who perform aircrew duties exclusively.
Special Area Clearance
Special Area Clearance is granted by Department of State and OUSD(P). Special area clearance requirements do not apply to: personnel in unified or overseas Service commands traveling to units of those commands, intra-theater troop movements, personnel deploying to support formally approved exercises or deployments, or aircrew members who perform aircrew duties exclusively.