By Renee De Haro
Lately, the security on Fort Bliss gates have been getting tighter and tighter as gate closures were put into effect around August 2014. Now, only certain gates are open to civilians.
After Fort Bliss had done some internal assessments and Department Of Defense (DOD) inspections, the results had determined that the Army was not up to standard on the codes of all the security procedures which allow personnel in through the gates.
Based on the flow of people entering the military base and where the Fort Bliss officials believe that they have more high-traffic areas, officials separated different gates and allowed only limited access to them.
Photo by Renee De Haro / Tejano Tribune
A soldier was scanning a citizens ID for clearance to go onto the base. Soldiers last name was
“This was a conscious decision,” 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Public Affairs officer Lieutenant Colonel Lee Peters said. “It wasn’t just a ‘Well, just pick these gates and go with it.’”
A few of the gates, such as Buffalo Soldier and Old Ironside, allow access to civilians, contractors and military family members.
Limited access gates for soldiers and DOD only is the Cassidy Gate.
Due to the traffic or additional inspections that may occur upon entering Fort Bliss, Lt. Col. Peters said he has told many of his soldiers and contractors to plan their time accordingly when coming on to base so that they won’t be late for work.
“Most days I have to wait 40 minutes in traffic at the Cassidy gate just to get to work on time,” Army specialist Drake Bjork said.
Soldiers standing guard to monitor traffic at all of the gates have scanners to run driver’s licenses or state identification cards for each person in the vehicle over the age of 12 trying to enter the base. After the i.d. is scanned, the guards are notified if the person has clearance to enter the base or not.
Drivers will also have to roll down all windows of the vehicle so guards can check the backseat for any weapons in the car. Some vehicles may be subject to random full-vehicle checks.
Using the Buffalo Soldier gate to enter Fort Bliss, student Benjamin Rodriguez said closures make it harder to get on and off base.
Rodriguez said he frequently uses the fitness centers on base.
“It causes traffic backups, but I think the protocols are better for the safety of everybody,” he said.
“As long as it keeps the bad people off of it [Fort Bliss], then it’s a good thing.”