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Use of Government Transportation

Air Force Protocol
from 'Til Wheels are Up'

Use of Government Transportation.

Generally speaking, and depending upon the number of vehicles assigned to your installation's transportation squadron, military members are authorized to use government vehicles for official purposes. Such use may include taking a visiting dignitary on a windshield tour of your installation, or driving a civilian dignitary to or from base operations or the local airport. We run into very few problems when using government transportation for official purposes. Most questions arise when using government transportation for quasi-official purposes such as transporting the dependents of a military member. The best source of information regarding government transportation propriety will be your local transportation squadron commander or judge advocate.

Public perception plays a key role in the use of government vehicles off base. For example, if the wing commander hosts the numbered air force commander for dinner at an off-base restaurant, government transportation should be authorized. However, the appearance to the public of an official government sedan parked at a commercial establishment may give the impression of abuse or impropriety. In such an instance, the wing commander driving his privately owned vehicle may be the more appropriate choice. On the other hand, if security is an issue, for example, you are hosting the Secretary of the Air Force at an off-base establishment, you can probably justify a government vehicle with driver or perhaps a rental vehicle that is unmarked.

The rules for spouses are quite different though. There is no problem if you are using a government vehicle to give an installation windshield tour to the new wing commander's spouse or a visiting general's wife. However, if you intend to travel off base to see the local sights or for lunch, it is appropriate to leave the government vehicle behind and take a privately owned vehicle. If your installation is hosting an official conference, where spouses attend and you have included leisure time in the spouses' itinerary for shopping, arrange for volunteers to use their own vehicles for transportation rather than government transportation to and from the local mall.

The rules for foreign dignitaries and spouses are different as well. As mentioned earlier in this chapter, foreign DV visits are normally sponsored by one of the service chiefs or the Joint Chiefs of Staff and approved by the Secretary of the Air Force. Use of government transportation off base for social or cultural events is appropriate, if it will provide a positive impact toward the outcome of the DV's visit, which in turn will foster enhanced relations between the two countries. Even with this said, it is a good idea for you to address appropriate use of government transportation for foreign dignitaries with the transportation squadron commander or judge advocate.

When in doubt, remember that public perception is a key factor followed by the advice of your installation's transportation squadron commander or judge advocate.