Vehicle decals may become thing of past
October 13, 2011
By J.D. Leipold
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 13, 2011) -- The Army Provost Marshal General has authorized post and garrison commanders to do away with motor vehicle registration and decals if the commander sees no added value to security.
While the requirement to register vehicles on base may soon disappear, all privately owned vehicles must continue to be licensed, registered, inspected and insured according to state and local laws. Rental vehicles are considered POVs for purposes of post entry and rental contracts serve as proof for proper licensing, registration and insurance.
Maj. Gen. David E. Quantock, who recently became the Army's provost marshal general and commander of Criminal Investigation Command, said the move to eliminate the registration and decal display, known as DD Form 2220, came about because decals only offer a false sense of security and are redundant to the information technology systems in place at most post gates.
"Decals are really an old way of providing security for a post," he said. "Vehicles change hands and many times those decals go from owner to owner to owner and if all security counted on was a decal to give access to a post, then I think you're putting yourself at a huge vulnerability that could be taken advantage of."
Quantock noted that it's the IT systems guards use at the gates of most installations that have been responsible for allowing security to catch unauthorized people trying to gain access. He said when guards make a traffic stop on an installation, they're not running decal checks, they're running license plates.
"Those automated systems are tremendously powerful. They identify outstanding warrants on individuals and they alert the guard force to those who have been barred from an installation,' Quantock said. "They not only scan CAC (military ID) cards, but also state driver licenses. We have a connection to most police databases out there. It's a huge force protection improvement at all these installations and one of the biggest advances we've made in force protection."
Quantock points to his last command at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where he said 30 percent of post apprehensions were done at the gates.
While the Army has granted commanders to do away with decal requirements, the general points out commanders still have the authority to keep the post registration and decal system in place if they think it in the best interest of their communities.
"As you look at every installation in our Army, they all face different threats, so it's very hard from a force protection perspective to make one thing mandatory for everybody," Quantock said citing that at Fort Leonard Wood, the biggest threats to security were the methamphetamine labs off-post and the criminal element trying to get on-post.
He noted that Missouri has the highest number of meth labs of any state in the union by double, and that has a huge impact on the drug traffic trying to go through Fort Leonard Wood.
"Threat levels drive everything in force protection. Fort Huachuca (Ariz.) has border issues and if you look around here in Maryland and Washington, there's tremendous force protection in place so we really have to allow commanders to make calls that are best for them based on the threats at their installation," he said.
As for cost savings, Quantock said that if every post and garrison did away with the decal requirement, the savings would be $256,000 a year which is what it cost to issue 800,000 decals at 32 cents a pop.
"Over five years it would be $1.2 million in savings and while we can be good stewards of the tax payers' dollars by taking something off the shelf that really isn't doing what we want it to do, it's really not about that," he said. "At the end of the day it's about analyzing threats and taking care of Soldiers, their families and civilians and making sure they have the protection in place to live and work in a healthy environment."