By Capt. Paul Chapelle , 1st Special Operations Wing Security Forces Commander
/ Published March 29, 2007
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
After much anticipation and speculation, Eglin and Hurlburt Field security forces will no longer issue Department of Defense Form 2220s, more commonly known as vehicle registration decals; nor will possession of decals be required for entry on either base.
Although Eglin and Hurlburt are two of only a handful of Air Force bases to implement this policy change, the concept is not unique. In fact, this policy is expected to be implemented Air Force-wide upon Air Force Chief of Staff approval.
Execution of this plan will be simple. Effective close of business March 30, Eglin and Hurlburt Field security forces will stop issuing vehicle registration decals. Simultaneously, guards will stop checking for them at the gates. At that point, all personnel may remove and destroy current decals from their vehicles unless there is some compelling reason they wish to retain the decal, such as routine entry to military bases still requiring them.
In most cases, no impact should be felt by personnel entering either base. Drivers must still present their ID card at all times for entry and other credentials such as passenger IDs, proof of registration and insurance and motorcycle safety cards may be checked during Random Antiterrorism Measures and/or traffic stops.
The driving force behind this initiative is twofold; saving money and increasing force protection. First, but least important, discontinuance of vehicle decals will save approximately $200,000 annually in supplies and manpower. Second, in the post 9/11 security environment, vehicle decals have been rendered less effective as a force protection measure. Rather, vehicle decals arguably increase the vulnerability of individual military members, as they identify a person's DoD affiliation and often give a false sense of security that a driver's and passenger's identity and status have already been verified.
The inconveniences expected from this initiative should be minimal and temporary, affecting only those who enter other military installations which have yet to adopt this policy. In those instances, personnel without a vehicle decal may be required to obtain a temporary visitor's pass for their vehicle upon entering the base. In cases where Hurlburt Field personnel reside on, or routinely visit, other installations still requiring vehicle decals, it is suggested they consider obtaining a long-term visitor's pass or register their vehicle on that base if so qualified and in accordance with local policy.
The vast majority of the Eglin and Hurlburt population will not be inconvenienced by this policy change. In addition to Eglin and Hurlburt, the following "local" bases will allow entry to their installations to DoD ID card holders without vehicle decals: Pensacola Naval Air Station, Saufley Field, Corey Station, The Navy Exchange, Pensacola, Tyndall AFB and Keesler AFB. Please understand this is each base's policy at the time of this article and is subject to change at any time. It is suggested you contact each individual base prior to travel in order to verify local base entry requirements.
Below are a list of common questions and answers associated with this policy:
Q: (AF): Why would the Air Force want to do away with vehicle decals and base registration?
A: (AF): After September 11th, security at all DoD installations was changed to require 100 percent ID card checks of drivers at base gates. This has rendered the decals superfluous, since the ID card checks are a much more effective means of verifying the authority of a driver to enter the base. In fact, the decals now are arguably a detriment to security. They are easily counterfeited, moved from one car to another, or found in used car parking lots. Moreover, looking for the decal on an approaching vehicle distracts our gate guards from focusing on the occupants. Finally, the decals are an expensive duplication of state registration and licensing. The Air Force spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year just on procuring the decals - countless more money and time is spent on issuing them. All of our security forces units are able to verify vehicle ownership through the license plates and other means.
Q: (AF): When will the Air Force go AF wide with this policy?
A: Pending final Air Force Chief of Staff approval, the goal is the implement this policy on 15 March 2007.
Q: (AF): What will I use instead to enter Air Force installations?
A: (AF): A DoD issued ID card will be the primary proof of authorization to enter AF installations. Gate guards may also check additional supporting identification such as driver's license, insurance and registration. Other examples of approved IDs or credentials are Common Access Card, contractor badge, AF Form 75 (Visitor Pass) or special event Visitor Roster to name a few.
Q: (AF): Will visitors be affected by this?
A: (AF): No, visitors will continue to follow the current installation visitor entry procedures.
Q: (AF): Does this mean that commissioned officers will not be saluted?
A: (AF): After checking the ID card, military gate sentries will render salutes as appropriate when force protection and traffic conditions permit.
Q: (AF): Will I have to remove the decal I already have on my car?
A: (AF): We recommend that vehicle owners remove decals from their vehicles when this change is effective. This will avoid advertising the driver's DoD affiliation while off-base, which could be of interest to potential terrorists, criminals, foreign intelligence operatives or other hostile agents. However, drivers who frequently drive onto the installations of other services might consider leaving their decals on their cars, taking into consideration any potential targeting risks. (See question 8.) Since the decals are no longer used for base entry, it is not worth taking this risk.
Q: (AF): Will I still have to comply with requirements for insurance, state registration, safety inspections, etc?
A: (AF): Yes. Air Force security forces will check for compliance with all of these requirements, randomly at the gates and during traffic enforcement. Motorcycle operators will still need to comply with base safety standards and have required training before being allowed to ride on AF installations. Commanders at all levels will also enforce compliance. Security forces will require motorcycle operators to show proof of motorcycle training requirements during random checks at the gates and during traffic enforcement stops.
Q: (AF): What about the other Services (Army, Navy and Marine) - are they making this change as well?
A: (AF): Not at this time. The Air Force is taking the lead in this initiative. The other Services are interested in the Air Force proposal, but are further behind in the staffing process.
Q: (AF): Is there a DoD requirement to register vehicles at all?
A: (AF): The joint traffic regulation (AFI 31-218 I) currently requires the services to register vehicles, although it does have language that appears to allow for other options. A change to the joint regulation has been in coordination for some time. We think the language in the joint regulation that requires base registration is outdated and became obsolete, when the DoD mandated 100 percent ID card checks for base entry.
Q: (AF): Won't we lose the benefit of centrally registering vehicles in the DoD?
A: (AF): There has never been a central, DoD wide database for vehicle registration. That's one of the big problems with the decals -- although each service uses the same decals, each service has always used its separate and unique registration database.
Vehicle registration information is more quickly and efficiently obtained through computerized State law enforcement databases.
Q: (AF): How will I be able to drive onto sister Service bases without a decal?
A: (AF): Air Force drivers will have to comply with the entry requirements of each particular installation. This might require getting a visitor's pass. Drivers who frequently visit other Service installations may want to consider registering their vehicle at that installation, if allowed to do so.
Q: (AF): Will this initiative apply to overseas bases as well?
A: With the exception of Alaska and Hawaii, no overseas locations use the decals now.
Q: (AF): Have some Air Force installations implemented this initiative already?
A: Yes, Hill AFB, Utah, stopped registering vehicles in June 2006 and Robins AFB, Ga., ceased on Feb. 5. Also Air Combat Command is no longer requiring base registration or decal issuance as of Feb. 7. The AF wide initiative will further standardize these actions and assist other commanders in implementing the initiative in areas under their authority.
Q: (AF): How is this being done at some installations before it is effective Air Force-wide?
A: (AF): Air Force installation commanders have the authority to locally assess the costs and benefits of registering vehicles and issuing decals, and implement this initiative. Installation commanders may continue to issue existing stock if they wish, but as of March 15, there is no requirement to do it anymore.