Fort Bliss increasing security procedures
FORT BLISS, Texas (AP) — The Army is ramping up security at Fort Bliss, its sprawling West Texas post near the U.S.-Mexico border.
The tighter security will include random vehicle checks and limiting access to Defense Department personnel at some gates.
Fort Bliss Commanding Officer Maj. Gen. Stephen Twitty said Tuesday that the measures are being taken after a military assessment found the base was not fully in compliance with Department of Defense directives.
“In layman’s terms, in a good old infantryman’s terms ... we are improving our foxhole. Are you tracking me? When you go into an area you assess where you are. I made my assessment and now I’m improving my position,” he said.
Twitty said that being out of compliance means that if something happened at Fort Bliss, the Army would not be able to control anyone going in and out of the installation.
The move comes a week after the leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees warned that the United States is being eyed as a target by militants of the group that calls itself the Islamic State. The new security measures also come ahead of the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.
However, Twitty said the timing was a coincidence.
In a statement last week, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said there is no credible or specific threat to the homeland by that extremist group.
Twitty said he’s talked to local and federal law enforcement agencies and has not received information about a threat to the installation.
“I do not know of any threat against Fort Bliss and I do not know of any threat against El Paso, and so because I’m doing things differently don’t perceive there is a threat against Fort Bliss,” Twitty said.
Twitty acknowledged the timing of the announcement about ramping up security on post was not the best.
“If there was a threat to Fort Bliss I would move toward all means possible. But I just don’t see a threat and we have various agencies that we can tap into,” Twitty said.
Early next year, he said, the installation will perform a drill involving all local and military law enforcement agencies and hospitals.
The post is working to improve security conditions after a sudden growth of residential and work facilities over the past few years that left increasing security measures for later.
He said the base needs extra road lanes to provide dedicated access to civilians and military personnel at some of the post’s 17 gates and adequate space for random vehicle inspections.