By Heather Graham-Ashley, III Corps and Fort Hood Public AffairsNovember 7, 2011
FORT HOOD, Texas, Nov. 7, 2011 -- On Oct. 31, Fort Hood Soldiers, families, civilians and visitors began seeing new faces at the installation access control points. Soldiers dressed in ACUs were checking IDs and welcoming to the Great Place those entering the post.
With the contracts ending and not renewing for Walden Security guards, III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General Lt. Gen. Don Campbell Jr. tasked units to take over some of the contracted mission under the Soldier Skill Set Utilization Program.
Chief Adrian Arnett, chief, Department of the Army security guards at Fort Hood, said having Soldiers work the gates is not a new or unusual concept for an Army garrison and is a logical decision.
"Guard duty basically is a Soldier duty," Arnett said. "There are certain garrison things that have to be done, and I'm glad we have Soldiers. I think it's a good thing that they get to do their jobs."
Currently, close to 100 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers are manning Fort Hood gates alongside Department of the Army Security Guards.
"A lot of civilians are surprised," Sgt. Cynthia Melendez said. "Many keep saying, 'It's about time I see Soldiers out here.'"
Melendez said she likes the job and enjoys working together with the civilian security guards to accomplish their shared mission.
"The whole purpose is to make sure Fort Hood is safe and welcoming those coming (on post)," she said.
Knowing the drivers are trying to get to work or to appointments on the installation, Melendez said she and the other Soldiers are working as fast as they can while making sure no one who should not be on Fort Hood gets access.
"People coming into Fort Hood have been cooperating," she said. "At first, it was intimidating trying to remember everything."
With the physical demands of the job and the focus on vigilance with security, Soldiers selected for the duty had to meet high standards. Classroom training for the Soldiers began Oct. 11 and included standard operating procedures, law classes, search and seizure procedures and use of force, as well as Installation Management Command-specific training about ID cards and vehicle inspections.
"All installations have to do this training," Arnett said. "Soldiers went through the same program as the civilian guards."
Following the completion of their classroom training, Soldiers had on-the-job training with their civilian counterparts Oct. 24-26 at the post access control points, or ACPs. In total, the Soldiers completed 64 hours of training with 40 hours in the classroom and 24 hours on the gates.
"They are doing great," Department of the Army Security Guard Sgt. Jerry Walker said. "There have been little hiccups, but it is a learning process."
He stressed that the Soldiers are there to augment the security at the gates, not to replace the current DA security guards.
"The Soldiers provide great assistance," Walker added. "They relieve some of the pressure. Without them here, our jobs would be a lot more stressful."
Arnett said so far, the Soldiers are doing well and taking the duty seriously, which will lend to a smooth transition.
"They did extremely well," Arnett said. "The Soldiers are motivated and paid attention in class."