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Nellis Says Farewell to Our Contracted Gate Guards

Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Norm Gante, Chenega security contractor, and Airman 1st Class Ruben Navarro, 99th Security Forces Squadron security forces journeyman, check identification credentials at the Beale Gate Sept. 25, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Gante along with all other contracted gate guards will hand over all responsibilities to 99th SFS starting October 1, 2012 when the contract ends. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. William P.Coleman)

Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Norm Gante, Chenega security contractor, and Airman 1st Class Ruben Navarro, 99th Security Forces Squadron security forces journeyman, check identification credentials at the Beale Gate Sept. 25, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Gante along with all other contracted gate guards will hand over all responsibilities to 99th SFS starting October 1, 2012 when the contract ends. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. William P.Coleman)

Ricky Warner, Chenega security contractor, checks  Airman 1st Class Daniel Sipos', 823rd Rescue Squadron avionics maintenance, identification card at the main gate Sept. 25, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Warner was born on  Nellis and grew up on the base. He served in the Army as an active duty reconnaissance scout from 2003-2006. He started working as a contracted gate guard in 2006 and was called back to duty in 2009 for a one-year deployment in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. William P. Coleman)

Ricky Warner, Chenega security contractor, checks Airman 1st Class Daniel Sipos', 823rd Rescue Squadron avionics maintenance, identification card at the main gate Sept. 25, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Warner was born on Nellis and grew up on the base. He served in the Army as an active duty reconnaissance scout from 2003-2006. He started working as a contracted gate guard in 2006 and was called back to duty in 2009 for a one-year deployment in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. William P. Coleman)

Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. -- Effective Oct. 1, contracted gate guards will no longer man entry control points to the base.

Nellis has been protected by contracted security guards since May 2004. This initiative started because of the high demand for Air Force Security Forces in overseas locations, supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

"Our presence was needed, and we were doing real good work, "said Senior Master Sgt. Barrett Walling, 99th Security Forces Squadron manager. "The better you do, the more they ask of you."

With security forces Airmen gone, the contracted security guards became the subject matter experts in all areas on entry control.

"The civilian work force is invaluable because our guys are able to go and come back without affecting continuity," said Master Sgt. Juan Gonzalez, 99th Security Forces Squadron operations superintendent.

Congress issued a mandate that all Air Force bases discontinue security contracts by the end of September. Fortunately, the continuity that civilian security guards provide will not go away. Department of the Air Force police will replace contracted guards and work side by side with security forces.

DAF police officers are classified in the General Schedule system and receive the full spectrum of police training. They will be able to perform every task a security forces member handles. They will also have the same jurisdiction over personnel.

As Nellis Air Force Base waits for the arrival of DAF police forces, the base will make changes to some of the gates. The 99th Security Forces Squadron defenders will take control of all the gates. However, a lack in available personnel will force several gate closures. The Range Road gate visitor control center and inspection area will close Oct. 1. More gate closures are under review.

"We are balancing customer needs while maintaining security," Gonzalez said. "The 215 gate, the VA gate and the Hollywood gate have been examined for possible closure."

While Nellis prepares for the changes in security, we thank all the contracted security guards for providing eight years of dedicated service to the base and the community.

"Our contactors were inspected annually during the eight years by Air Force Security Forces Headquarters, "said Dan Christensen, former contract site manager. "Every year we passed with zero discrepancies."

"They were much needed," Walling said. "We could not have done our missions overseas without their help."

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