Installation Entry Control: A Key Component of Integrated Defense

  • Published
  • By Capt. Nick Petren
  • 66th Security Forces Squadron
Following the tragic shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, last November, the national media has highlighted many force protection incidents at military installations.

In recent months, numerous incidents of attempted unauthorized entry, use of false identification, as well as potentially dangerous or violent acts have occurred at military installations in the continental United States. In fact, there have been the same number of attacks or thwarted plots targeting U.S. government installations in the last two years as there had been in the previous eight.

In the past year, alert entry controllers have stopped volatile situations in their tracks by denying entry and apprehending illegally armed personnel at MacDill AFB, Fla., Fort Belvoir, Va., and other installations. Additionally, U.S. Air Force Security Forces have terminated lethal threats posed by criminals at Luke AFB, Ariz., and MacDill AFB, Fla.

Here at Hanscom, roughly every 10 days a person is apprehended at the installation gates for attempting to enter while an active warrant for their arrest exists in the National Criminal Information System. Also, personnel have been arrested over the last year for presenting false identification. Two people were arrested by federal authorities in eastern Massachusetts this year for plotting to conduct or support terrorist attacks, including attacks on local shopping malls.

Security forces personnel, be they civilian or military, performing installation entry control duty have a simple but challenging task. They must evaluate personnel requesting entry to the base to determine if they have a valid entry credential. This includes, at a minimum, verifying credential authenticity, matching the picture with the person and ensuring the credential is not expired.

In addition, entry controllers must also expeditiously evaluate personnel and vehicles for indicators of suspicious or hazardous activity or intent. Lastly, they must train sufficiently and pass written, verbal and practical exams to ensure they are capable of rapidly responding to a myriad of contingencies, as well as making split second life or death decisions regarding use of force in the protection of DoD personnel and property.

In light of this information, base personnel are asked to be patient when waiting to enter the base, with an understanding of and appreciation for the duties and responsibilities of the installation entry controller.

This is information is not provided to raise undue alarm or paranoia. Hanscom is and will continue to be a very safe place to live and work. However, it would be imprudent to downplay or ignore the threat posed by extremists.

Senior leaders must make difficult risk management decisions regularly to emplace the right security measures for the local situation and mission, and they need help to protect the force. All Airmen play a part in the integrated defense effort. "Every Airman is a sensor" is not a punch-line, it's a paradigm.

All personnel should be on the lookout for suspicious activities, such as potential terrorist surveillance, elicitation of information, tests of security, acquiring supplies that could be used for terrorism or deploying assets in preparation for an attack.

If something doesn't look right, report it. Base personnel may immediately report any suspicious activity to the law enforcement desk at 781-377-2315.