Commentary by Lt. Col. Jasin Cooley
50th Security Forces Squadron commander
Schriever is unique in its clustering of so many important, yet diverse, assets in a small area, with such a large population of employees; I have heard the restricted area described as a nuclear missile launch facility with a mall inside. Whereas most Air Force bases have restricted areas, they are generally segregated from the main base, and the number of people working inside those restricted areas is quite small. At Schriever, the restricted area is the main base. Therefore, there are unique security challenges that require the support of all personnel. As directed by the Integrated Defense Plan, all personnel must remain alert to detect threats and suspicious activity.
Due to the number of personnel working inside the restricted area, it is easy to forget the degree of importance of the assets within. This kind of complacency provides plenty of opportunities for lax security procedures and attitudes; it is absolutely critical for all personnel to continually reaffirm their commitment to security. From removing one’s common access card when walking away from a computer to following proper escort procedures when bringing guests or workers into the restricted area, Schriever employees cannot assume that the relative lack of security incidents means there is no threat.
As a result, security forces must also treat every suspicious activity detected or alarm activation as a potential threat to those assets. For better or worse, the sheer number of personnel within the restricted area, coupled with the number of alarm points therein, causes a large number of alarms. Until security forces and the asset owner-user can validate the safety and security of those assets, alarm activations must be treated as real threats, which mean limiting access to the restricted area to prevent an adversary freedom of movement and access to other assets. This is certainly inconvenient, but is necessary when considering just how important Schriever’s assets are to the downrange warfighter and national security as a whole.
The security-centric mindset applies when off the installation as well; personnel should immediately report suspicious activity when off-base through the Eagle Eyes program at 567-5643 (and security forces/office of special investigations indeed receive periodic Eagle Eyes reports from vigilant base employees). Schriever employees also have an obligation to improve security through their own actions. Within the last month there have been three incidents of thefts downtown where restricted area badges, common access cards, military uniforms and government equipment have been stolen from personal vehicles. This carelessness represents a lack of attention to security and increases the risk to the assets at Schriever.
We all have an obligation to ensure the 50th Space Wing and all of the installation’s mission partners are able to execute their collective missions in support of national defense. That there are so many people working inside the restricted area is irrelevant; there are assets here which the “loss, theft, destruction, misuse or compromise would result in great harm to the strategic capability,” and “harm the war-fighting capability of the United States.” Moreover, those personnel who work with these assets every day are well-equipped to recognize and report suspicious activity. By embracing security and allowing it to color our actions, both on and off base, we can ensure that risks are reduced and mitigated.