Base security, access differs with Army, Navy and Air Force in Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads is home to more than a dozen different military bases, with hundreds of commands, and thousands of sailors, soldiers, marines and airmen.
Depending on the branch that runs the base, security and access procedures are never the same.
“It seems there are different rules for Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard,” said Brett Becker, of Becker American, a Norfolk concrete contracting company that does work exclusively on military bases.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is now calling on all four branches of the military to start looking into those base security systems and see if any safety gaps need to be addressed.
Any changes could affect local businesses like Becker American.
“It’s extremely important that the people entering those bases are properly vetted and have a business being there,” said Fred Becker, co-owner of Becker American.
Some contractors are issued DOD approved Common Access Cards, or CAC cards, which gets them on any military base without a vehicle check.
That is what Aaron Alexis used to get access to the Washington Navy Yard.
For those that don’t have a CAC card, Navy bases, including Norfolk, Oceana, and Little Creek, follow the same rules: Every contractor needs a RapidGate ID card.
If you don’t have one, you must go to the base’s pass office and wait in line to get a background check.
When you want to get on the Air Force base at Langley though, they don’t use RapidGate.
Contractors actually need to turn in their name and date of birth days in advance for a background check and base access.
At Fort Eustis Army base, no advance notice is needed.
At the gate, you just show your ID and proof of insurance to get your truck inspected with no background check.
Joint Base Langley-Eustis officials say gate measures vary based on the mission, assets and vulnerability of each installation.
These contractors are hoping one single system emerges after the Pentagon finishes their security reviews.
“Then, you have one credential that is good for the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard,” said Becker.