FORT LEE, Va. -- Motorists will no longer need Department of Defense vehicle decal or temporary day passes in order to enter Fort Lee after Sept. 1.
The change is being made so that vehicles with a Department of Defense vehicle decal do not become a potential target.
The new rules will allow non-DoD visitors to drive to any access point or gate, show a government-issued identification such as a driver's license and enter the post without stopping at the Lee Gate visitor's center to get a pass. "We are doing away with the need to have stickers on privately owned vehicles," said Fort Lee Provost Marshal Maj. David Martin
In this post-9/11 era, Department of Defense personnel are at an increased risk of being targeted by terrorists, Martin said. He cited the May 2007 case in which six men were arrested and charged with planning to gain access to Fort Dix, N.J., to kill as many soldiers as they could. "There should be no question in anyone's mind that the terrorist threat to military personnel is real," he added.
"Across the board, it is a matter of force protection," he said. "(A decal) doesn't always identify a vehicle as belonging to a Department of Defense employee, and just having the sticker can potentially make an individual a target."
Any step to reduce the visibility of military personnel would naturally decrease the possibility of individual service members being targeted by terrorists. Martin also mentioned other measures like mandatory anti-terrorism training each year and not requiring military personnel to wear uniforms during official travel, and said that eliminating base decals on vehicles is just another step that will further decrease the risk to servicemembers.
Lead Sgt. Rico Williams with the Police Operations section noted that the requirement for base decals and temporary access passes has been around for many years -- well before 9/11. The possibility of terrorists trying to obtain or counterfeit base decals has always been a threat as well.
Also, Department of Defense personnel haven't always been accountable for the decals they were issued -- some were improperly transferred from one car to another or not removed when the car was sold. It wasn't uncommon to find vehicles with DoD stickers still attached in used car lots. Thinking along those lines, and the fact that anyone with a sticker or pass is still required to show a valid military identification card and is subject to random inspection, "the decal requirement seems redundant," Williams said.
"The change in access procedures should also increase awareness and add emphasis to the thorough inspection of identification documents," he added. "Requiring police and security personnel to perform checks for a valid driver's license and a current registration is a more effective way to ensure the accuracy of these documents than checking them only when drivers apply for a decal."
Martin noted that existing decals don't have to be removed from vehicles when the new access rules go into effect. All post stickers will be accepted until their expiration.
The Provost Marshal's Office emphasized that all vehicles driven onto Fort Lee are still required to be properly licensed, registered and insured according to state and local laws. Those entering the post are subject to a 100 percent identification check and inspection by security personnel. Non-DoD visitors may also be asked for their vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
To address the issue of suspended base driving privileges, Fort Lee will create a database (including pictures) of those whose privileges have been revoked. Army regulations still require motorcycle riders on military bases to present a certification card proving they have completed the required safety course.
The projected financial benefit of eliminating base decals service-wide is fairly significant. While it will result in an annual savings of approximately $39,000 per year for Fort Lee, Williams said the tally is more than $500,000 Army-wide for printing costs alone. The requirement to process applications for decals and temporary passes will also be eliminated, resulting in reduced costs for personnel and time saved for applicants.