Discounting escort procedures: The need to stem a rising trend

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Tony Castillo
  • 49th Security Forces Squadron, commander
It is early morning and Mary, a civilian employee on base, is ready for work. As she makes her way to the door, her son Brian (who's on summer break) asks if he can ride with her so that he can "hang out" at any of the various recreational points and snack areas around the base. Thinking nothing of it, Mary agrees and escorts Brian onto the base. Brian then leaves her at her workplace to play basketball at the Fitness Center Annex for a couple of hours.

Later, Brian gets hungry. So, he makes his way to the food court on base. As Brian is walking along - unattended by his escort (mom at work), he comes across an unlocked vehicle and notices a purse in the passenger seat. After a quick check to ensure no one else is around, Brian reaches in the car, opens the purse and takes a wallet and a mobile phone. He then walks off to the base food court for a bite to eat. In just seconds, Brian made off with a $600 phone and a wallet containing credit cards and cash.

When Brian goes home at the end of the day, no one knows what he did, and his mother assumes he was behaving and having a good time at the gym. Later, the military member reports the theft to Security Forces Squadron, who then partners with local law enforcement and the member to track the phone through its GPS-locator feature. A day later, local law enforcement locates Brian off base who has been trying to use the phone. The officer identifies the phone and wallet in Brian's house and detains him for theft. Since the crime occurred on base, jurisdiction belongs to Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., and security forces takes Brian in for processing. The investigation reveals not just the crimes mentioned above, but also exposes the root cause of the offenses - mother, Mary was not in compliance with escort procedures of the base because she allowed her son to wander to other locations around the base without her presence.

The good news is the military member eventually recovered all property that was stolen. The bad news is Brian is charged with multiple counts of theft and mother's, Mary, escort privileges are now revoked and her job may be on the line.

According to AFI 31-113, Installation Perimeter Access Control, DoD Military and Civilians, military retirees, and adult dependents have escort authority based on their DoD affiliation (authorized credentials), prior honorable service, or dependency status. When escorting a non-DoD affiliated person(s) onto the base, the escort should understand that they are taking responsibility for their guests while on base. Security Forces, in collaboration with the Integrated Defense Working Group and the Integrated Defense Council have established local procedures for escort based on risk analysis. The 49th Wing commander has accepted these procedures and the risk associated with these processes but, only under the premise that they are complied with at all times. These local procedures can be found in the Holloman Air Force Base, 49th Wing Plan 31-101, Integrated Defense Plan. The following are requirements of escorts on Holloman:

- Escorts will be active duty, guard, reserve military/retired personnel, their spouses, or their children 16 years and older and civilian employees (with escort authority) of HAFB who have valid credentials to enter the installation unescorted. Note: Minors under the age of 18 are authorized to escort two minors of the same age or younger onto Holloman. Minors are not authorized to escort adults.
- Escorts will be knowledgeable of and brief visitors of all installation applicable instructions.
- Escorts will physically escort visitors while on the installation, except when preannounced visitor is traveling to a meeting location and departing the installation.
- Unless specific approval is granted, the visitor limit any person may escort onto the base is ten. Procedures for escorting more than 10 visitors are available at the 49 SFS Pass and ID office at the HAFB Welcome Center.

In addition, personnel who escort visitors onto Holloman Air Force Base can avoid violations by knowing and understanding two basic requirements: First, members escorting personnel are entirely responsible for the actions of all occupants in their vehicle or pedestrians if walking, and for meeting all security requirements for escort as established by the Installation Commander. Second, personnel escorted within the installation must stay within the physical custody of the sponsor, within the sponsor's residence, or the adjacent, immediate public areas of the sponsor's residence.

Simply put, escorted individuals must remain in the control of the escort. Escort and other access control procedures are important to ensure only authorized individuals are granted base access. When procedures are followed, we detect individuals who are not authorized access and our base is safe and secure. However, when escort procedures don't work, or are not used properly, we lose sight of who comes onto our base and have limited capability to control their movement after they have gained access. Consequently, the risk for criminal behavior, hostile surveillance, and attacks on Air Force resources rises to an unacceptable level.

Finally, it is important to know escorting visitors onto our installations is a privilege that can be removed if evidence indicates this privilege is misused or abused. If you have questions pertaining to your responsibilities while escorting a visitor, please contact the 49th SFS Welcome Center at 575-572-5920.