FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker is scheduled to begin its upgrade to the Automated Installation Entry program during the second week of September in a move by the Army to ensure continuity across the service and enhance installation security at all of its posts.
While the upgrade to the common operating system will be largely transparent to people associated with Fort Rucker, there will be some effort required up front to get everyone’s post access credentials registered in the system, according to Brian Bowman, physical security specialist with the Directorate of Public Safety.
“This new program relies on technology that will verify the identity of individuals to ensure that they meet Army-approved access standards against several criminal and terrorist databases,” Bowman said.
“As of last fall, the AIE program is the approved electronic physical access control system for the Army. Fort Rucker is getting AIE Tier 2, which consists of handheld scanners similar to the ones people currently see in use at the access control points,” he said, adding that some other installations using AIE are Redstone Arsenal, Anniston Army Depot, Fort Benning, Georgia, and Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Military members, family members, retirees, civilian employees and others with accepted post entry credentials don’t need to go anywhere or do anything beyond planning for an additional few seconds at the gates to get themselves registered in the new system, Bowman said.
“A security officer, using a hand-held device similar to those currently in use, will conduct the initial credential registration of DOD ID cards at the ACPs,” he added. “It will take about 10-15 seconds per ID card. Subsequent scans following the initial registration process will only take between one and three seconds. Initial scanning for registration of DOD ID cards will initially take place during off-peak times.”
DPS will establish initial credential registration options during the first week of the upgrade using the exit lanes for people to update on their own schedule. A schedule for this will be published soon, Bowman said.
Non-DOD ID card holders older than 18 who have a valid reason for entering the installation who want to obtain an AIE access card must agree to a background check, which uses the National Crime Information Center Interstate Identification Index, a Federal Bureau of Investigation database that provides criminal histories from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the physical security specialist.
“This check involves verifying people’s identity and checking their criminal history against the Army Fitness Adjudication Standards,” Bowman said. “Those with derogatory information related to the standards will be denied unescorted access to the installation. All non-DOD ID card holders are required to go to one of the visitor control centers to meet this requirement.
“Additionally, all personnel that have a valid visitor pass from the previous access control system are required to obtain a new AIE Access Card,” he added.
The Ozark VCC is open Mondays-Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the Daleville VCC is open Mondays-Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The AIE registration process for visitors takes an estimated three to seven minutes to complete. AIE Access Cards and visitor passes are issued for the duration of the visitor’s stay (e.g., five days to attend family day and a graduation), up to 6 months (unsponsored) or one year (sponsored). Visitors will need nothing more than they already bring in with the current system. For more, visit https://home.army.mil/rucker/index.php/visit.
Bowman and others responsible for keeping Fort Rucker safe welcome the move to the new system.
“It has access to more databases and information than Fort Rucker's current system, and reportedly returns information just as fast as systems previously used across the Army. One benefit to installation security is the ability to access debarment information from other installations using AIE. If a person is barred from, for example, Fort Benning, that information will populate on the guard's scanner screen if that person attempts to access Fort Rucker.”
As with any major change, officials expect challenges to arise while implementing the new system and are taking measures to mitigate the impact on the Fort Rucker community.
“We have reached out to other installations currently using AIE and are implementing some of their best practices,” Bowman said. “One best practice to get DOD ID cards registered into the AIE system is to randomly scan people’s cards as they enter and exit the installation during off-peak hours, and as individuals enter during peak hours, as traffic allows. This practice ensures minimal mission impact and inconvenience to those accessing the installation.”
He added that more information will be put out on the upgrade as it is finalized.