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Kirtland Defenders – standing their post to ensure Global Strike security

  • Published
  • By Sheridan Fidelman
  • 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

 For many of the people who have seen the film “A Few Good Men,” we remember the scene where Col. Nathan Jessup rants about the men unwilling to pick up a rifle and stand on the wall to defend the base. 

Many people here at Kirtland Air Force Base show a similar behavior pattern when they get frustrated with the men and women who have volunteered to stand, in this case, at the gates to help provide safety and security to the people who live and work on the installation.

A lot of these frustrations stem from long lines waiting to get on base. Believe it or not, there are hundreds of reasons for the potential delays, but our Defenders are not one of them.

I spoke with Col. Amy Rivera, 377th Security Forces Group commander, Lt. Col. Ramon Morado, 377th Security Forces Squadron commander, and MSgt Benjamin Perry, 377 SFS, Operations Superintendent, to gain clarity on the unanticipated delays happening at the gate.

"The Kirtland Defenders have a challenging job due to the complex mission at Kirtland AFB, its mission partners, and location, and is one of the busiest installations for law enforcement in the Air Force. They work tirelessly to ensure the safety of the community.” Morado said.

Although many people assume that gate duty is the only task of Defenders, this is untrue. In fact, they have a wide range of responsibilities such as conducting perimeter patrols, checking gates, performing random anti-terrorism measures, responding to emergencies, enforcing regulations, and providing support to other base agencies when required.

“At Kirtland, our Defenders put in a lot of effort to ensure that we are a difficult target for anyone trying to disrupt our operations. We understand that some days, these protective measures may take longer and cause gate delays. However, due to the valuable assets located on our base, we believe it's important to exercise an abundance of caution,” Morado said.

When entering Kirtland and presenting your ID card to the Defender at the gate, it may not cross your mind that they are performing several tasks simultaneously to ensure your safety.

“In that split second that Defender is scanning your ID, they are also looking at the car to see if anyone is hiding, looking for anything suspicious on the car, looking at the car registration, and more. It’s a 24/7 vigilant Defender that is standing at the gate that is trying to make sure everyone coming on base is vetted. That Defender could be doing 8-12 different tasks in that few seconds they are scanning your ID,” said Perry.

Perry went on to explain how those unexpected gate delays are often a result of necessary security checks to ensure everyone's safety.

Most people are denied entry due to expired credentials, incomplete paperwork, non-compliance with base entry requirements, or those attempting to gain base entry with ill intent.

“On average, the Defenders deny base access to 300 people a day and have 60 cars turn around at the gate. To do these turn arounds in a safe matter, all traffic and gate operations come to a halt to get that car turned around,” Rivera said.

Rivera told me that ultimately the Defenders main priority is to deny base access to those that are not authorized to enter the base.

"Enforcing these protocols are essential to the overall security posture of Kirtland AFB and ultimately the rest of the Air Force as Kirtland enables the uninterrupted projection of Combat Power seen throughout the world right now,” Perry said.

Rivera, Morado, and Perry are hopeful the Kirtland community will do their part to reduce stress and traffic delays at the gates.

"As a cardholder, it is your responsibility to follow protocol by registering your ID correctly, using a valid ID, and for contractors, only attempting to enter the base at authorized gates and during authorized times," Morado said.

If you ever encounter an unexpected delay at one of the Kirtland gates, remember that these delays are a result of a Defenders doing their job to keep our community and the Air Force mission safe, and should be considered a save.

“Every person coming through the Kirtland gates should thank our Defenders for providing us all a safe, secure, and effective place to work and live,” Rivera said.

“Our number one priority is the safety and security of you and the families on this base and we must ensure our duties are carried out the proper way. Please remember that the airmen at the gates are there for the safety and security of the entire installation, and please remember your humanity when dealing with these airmen. They are doing the best they can,” Perry said.