On December 19, 2000, the Commander in Chief of USCENTCOM, General Tommy Franks issued General Order 1A (GO-1A), which remains in force for all CENTCOM personnel serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan Theater of Operation, as well as those participating in the biennial Bright Star Exercise in Egypt.
Absent a direct order to the contrary from an OIC based on a genuine imperative military necessity with no feasible and logical alternative, GO-1A, Section 2(g) prohibits "Removing, possessing, selling, defacing or destroying archeological artifacts or national treasures." Furthermore, Section 2(k) prohibits "Taking or retaining individual souvenirs or trophies," but "does not preclude the lawful acquisition of souvenirs that can be legally imported into the United States" [section 2 (k)(4)].
In this respect, GO-1A is identical to the wording found in General Order 1 (GO-1), issued on November 10, 1990 by the former Commander in Chief, USCENTCOM General Norman Schwarzkopf, which was issued to all U.S. Forces serving in Operation Desert Shield.
Afghanistan's Law on the Protection of Historical and Cultural Properties (2004) does not permit any acquisition or export of antiquities, archaeological material, ancient art or artifacts of any kind obtained while in theater without an official permit. Iraq's Law Number 55 for the Antiquities and Heritage of Iraq (2002) and Egypt's Law on the Protection of Antiquities: Law No. 117 (enacted 1983) contain similar prohibitions.
While operating in Afghanistan, USCENTCOM personnel, including civilian staff, should assume that all artifacts, antiquities and cultural property items encountered while on Afghan soil, whether in the field or in curio shops or dealers' stalls, are not to be touched, picked up, acquired in any way (whether by purchase, gift, barter or trade), transported or exported as proscribed under General Order 1A, Section 2.
Any violation of General Order 1A by USCENTCOM personnel constitutes a Prohibited Activity and is thus forbidden. In addition to forfeiture of any artifacts that you may have taken or acquired, violation of GO-1A, section 2(g) or section 2(k), may subject the violator to administrative sanction, a formal hearing under Article 92 of the UCMJ, or possible criminal prosecution.
Given the widespread nature of site looting and the trade in illicit antiquities throughout the region, as well as the presence of forgeries in dealers' shops and at local markets, USCENTCOM personnel should assume that any artifact or cultural heritage item that is offered to them while in theater is either:
(a) genuinely old, which means it is protected cultural property and, thus,
illegal to acquire, receive, transport or export; or
(b) a forgery or a replica ... and is not worth the trouble of explaining
the matter to a customs agent when you try to take it home.
Service personnel are advised to decline acceptance of any antiquities, artifacts or cultural heritage material that are offered as gifts, regardless of the circumstances.
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