If U.S. military police have their say, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf isn't going to be able to take home that bottle of sand he filled from a Kuwaiti beach when he leaves Saudi Arabia.
Taking Middle East sand and earth back to the United States violates U.S. Agriculture Department regulations, said Sgt. Bob Kress of Somerset, Mass., one of the MPs enforcing U.S. customs and Agriculture Department rules for departing soldiers. "You cannot bring it out of the country," said Kress.The military prohibitions against taking Mideast soil back home are so stringent that MPs are throwing away mud-encrusted boots they find in soldiers' rucksacks during searches for contraband weapons, food and illegal war souvenirs. The concern is "a Medfly situation" where the earth and sand contains parasites that could spread in the United States.
Earlier this week, Schwarzkopf, commander of U.S. forces in the gulf, filled a small bottle with sand from Kuwait's beaches to keep with him as a souvenir "of free Kuwait." Maj. James Pasierb, a spokesman for Central Command in Riyadh said he was unaware of the regulations and couldn't say how they might apply to Schwarzkopf's souvenir.