Ask The Commander: Gate access, security

| February 26, 2010 | 0 Comments

Col. Matthew Margotta, Garrison Commander

The “Ask the Commander” program is designed as a communication tool to allow Soldiers, civilians and family members to get concerns addressed and questions answered by the garrison commander. All submitted questions go directly to the garrison commander; directorates and support staff research queries and provide responses to the commander.

Due to newspaper space limitations, only a sampling of questions are printed or broadcast on TV2, a channel available on Army installations. Generally, the commander answers questions of community-wide impact.

Generally, the commander answers questions of communitywide impact. 

(Editor’s Note: This is part two of the special Ask the Commander column, following up on questions asked during the garrison’s live town-hall, Dec. 17.)

Q: The recent closure of Macomb Gate at Schofield Barracks impacted the Soldiers, family members and civilian employees entering post, especially during the morning hours. Is it possible to close gates during times that don’t impact traffic?

A: Since the entrance gates to our installations are only one or two lanes wide, coupled with a fairly immature off-post road network leading into our gates, traffic entering our posts is often congested, especially during the morning rush hours. As evident by our parking challenges, we are impacted on our ability to mitigate the congestion by a lack of physical space to widen or improve our roads. When our historic installations were first constructed (more than 100 years ago), the needs of our modern-day Army and workforce were never envisioned. There are long-term plans to expand some of our gates, but due to budget cycles and funding, construction won’t begin for several years.

Most of the current construction at our gates is to support upgrades to our security and force protection measures. We understand how closing one gate impedes the flow of traffic, and we try our best to minimize this impact.

One way we mitigate congestition is by trying to keep the gate, or at least one of the lanes, open at all times during the construction. We also try to schedule construction only between the hours of 8 a.m.-3 p.m. to avoid the morning and afternoon rush hours.

However, restricted closure hours can’t always be done because of the type of construction. There are periods where construction mandates a gate be closed at all times; however, we try and keep this to a minimum.
Additionally, when a gate must close, we will do our best to open another gate or place additional guards at nearby open gates to speed up ID card checks and increase traffic flow. This was our approach when Macomb Gate was recently closed.

If a gate is going to be closed for a period of time, we do our best to inform the public in advance through many venues and forums so drivers can plan alternate routes and adjust their schedules.

We put electronic signs near impacted gates and send information out through various command information channels, to include the Hawaii Army Weekly, command calendars, community bulletins, TV2, and the garrison’s Web site and Twitter account.

To check traffic notices and gate hours at any time, visit www.garrison.hawaii.army.mil and click on “Post Updates.”

Q: Can you please explain what the different security codes mean that are posted at the gates and the function of the “swinging arms” that were installed at Helemano Military Reservation? Also, why aren’t security guards manning the gate at HMR?

A: As community members enter our installations, they should notice a Force Protection Condition sign, or FPCON.

The FPCON signs that are posted at the gates indicate the current security environment. The codes are meant to describe the type of measures that may be taken to protect the community from a credible outside threat.

On most days, the FPCON code is A or B (Alpha or Bravo), which means that normal, elevated security measures are being taken, such as 100-percent identification checks.

An FPCON code of C (Charlie) indicates a high alert level and may mean that an incident has occurred or an incident is imminent.

In that case, security measures would likely be increased. Finally, code D (Delta) indicates severe, the highest security level. FPCONs aren’t intended to frighten our community; instead the codes are used to keep our community informed and to provide awareness.

Regardless of the FPCON, be assured that our security forces are ready and prepared to respond. Other measures have been installed, such as the “swing arm” gates, which can be lowered to provide additional security during elevated FPCONs or special situations, like a child abduction incident.

Finally, we fully understand the community’s desire to have all of our housing communities covered with Access Control Points security guards.

I realize having guards at our gates provides an additional level of comfort regarding safety and security.

However, at this time we are unable to cover all of our ACPs, to include HMR and Aliamanu Military Reservation, due to an insufficient number of authorized contract security guards and available military police.

Unfortunately, our satellite communities (AMR, HMR, Red Hill and Mendonca Park) aren’t recognized by the Department of the Army as “installations” per se.

These satellite communities don’t meet the established criteria to be considered in the same vein as Schofield, Wheeler, Fort Shafter, Tripler, etc. Thus, the Army does not provide the authorizations and resources necessary to support security guards at these community access points.

CSGs are only authorized for “installation” access control points.

We know that the installations and housing areas in Hawaii are different from most other Army posts on the mainland, primarily because our installations are spread across the island of Oahu and many of our housing communities are separated from them.

In order to mitigate not having permanent guards at these points, we do conduct random access measures several hours per day. This means we have our roving military police patrols man the gates for a couple of hours during each of their shifts.

Also, you may have seen garrison leadership pulling guard duty on our gates for a couple of hours each week.

We are also in dialogue with the 25th Infantry Division and 8th Theater Sustainment Command to explore options to provide additional Soldier support to assist us in covering these unmanned gates.

Q: The intersection of Cadet Sheridan and McCornack on Schofield Barracks is extremely busy. Making a left hand turn very challenging. Can a left turn signal be installed at this intersection?

A: In response to this concern, the Directorate of Public Works conducted a traffic survey to determine how the situation can be improved.

As a result, the timing of the green traffic lights will be modified for the north and southbound lanes. Once modifications are complete, another traffic study will be completed during peak traffic hours to evaluate the results. Additional measures may be taken pending results of the follow-on survey.

Information from our community regarding situations like this intersection is very valuable to us. We can’t address an issue unless we know about it, and we’re not always aware of situations that impact our community. We continue to reach out to our community.

We hope that you find forums such as the “Ask the Commander” column useful as we continue to strive to provide the best service and support to our Soldiers, families and military community.

Points of Contact
• Call 656-6751/6750 to reach the Directorate of Emergency Services.
• Call 656-7051 to reach the Directorate of Public Works.

More Information

To submit an “Ask the Commander” question, send an e-mail to AskTheCommander.usaghi@us.army.mil or go to the next TV2 taping March 25, 3-4 p.m., at the Fort Shafter PX/Mart.

For more information, call Ophelia Isreal (655-9033) at Customer Management Services, or call Aiko Brum (656-3155) or Jack Wiers (656-3489) at U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs.

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Category: News, Standing Columns

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