Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Security starts at gates for military bases in Pikes Peak region

By Tom Roeder Updated: April 2, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Military bases have clamped down on security after a series of on-base shootings, but arming troops hasn't been one of the solutions.

Fatal shooting at Fort Hood coverage

Since the 2009 massacre that killed 13 at Fort Hood, Texas and the 2012 mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, bases have instead looked to improve screening of those who gain access to bases in a bid to keep trouble outside the gates.

"Security is a big deal," said retired Army. Lt. Gen. Ed Anderson, who heads the National Homeland Defense Foundation in Colorado Springs, as he monitored developed at Fort Hood Wednesday.

Bases in the Pikes Peak region wouldn't discuss details of security measures implemented in the wake of the Fort Hood incident Wednesday.

"Fort Carson has immediately implemented prudent security measures to ensure the safety of our soldiers, civilians and families and thus visible extra security measures at all access gates should be expected for the foreseeable future," Maj. Earl Brown, a Fort Carson spokesman, said in an email. "We ask all personnel to report suspicious activity immediately."

Fort Carson officials also confirmed the shooter was never stationed at Fort Carson and that he or she transferred to Fort Hood from Fort Bliss.

At Fort Carson Wednesday, traffic was flowing freely on roads around the five local installations Wednesday evening, a sign that normal precautions were in place at gates, rather than a full lock-down.

Security begins at the gate for military bases. In the Pikes Peak region, guard pack hand-held computers to check identification cards. They get an electronic alert when a security threat is detected.

In addition to the electronic check, visitors are subject to search as guards look for weapons.

Military rules forbid troops and civilians from packing concealed firearms and visitors may not bring weapons to bases.

Once inside the bases, security continues. Military police conduct random patrols and other security measures are in place to protect weapons and secrets.

While troops pack weapons full-time overseas, they only rarely have access to their firearms at home.

Rifles, pistols and machine guns are kept under lock and key in Arms rooms and brought out only for training or overseas deployment.

Ammunition is also guarded, and getting a loaded firearm requires orders from on high and a pile of paperwork.

Anderson, who served in uniform as the deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command, which is responsible for protecting America from terrorists attacks, said the Army is taking security seriously.

"It was tightened up post-9/11 and after the Fort Hood massacre, things have tightened up even more," he said.

One sign of tighter security has been evident at military gates for months.

Civilian security guards are gone, replaced by heavily-armed troops.

Even at the Air Force Academy, which has the easiest visitor access in the region and draws 400,000 tourists a year, drivers are greeted by an airman with an M-4 rifle.

"It's not something that's taken for granted like it use to be," Anderson said.

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