A former US Army Counterintelligence officer warns that US bases aren’t as secure as he would like- and he made a point to test security by bringing Russian nationals onto a military installation.
David DeBatto, a retired Army officer who worked in the Counterintelligence community and specialized in evaluating force protection, wrote that the security levels of military installations must be evaluated on a regular basis.
“I am a retired US Army Counterintelligence (CI) Special Agent,” he wrote. “A significant role played by Army CI is Force Protection. Army CI Force Protection planning is simply a review of existing physical security measures and procedures that are in place to protect US Army personnel and other assets.”
DeBatto noted that in at least 17 cases over the past 10 years, the protocols and procedures established for force protection have failed.
In addition to being confused as to firearms could be smuggled onto a military installation, DeBatto claimed that the civilian guards he encountered at Florida’s MacDill Air Force Base were far too lax, and allowed him to bring his Russian wife and stepson onto the base without any scrutiny.
“On my third visit to MacDill, in October 2019, to renew my military ID, I was accompanied by my Russian wife and her 20-year-old son, recently arrived from Russia,” he wrote. “At that point, my wife had only been in the US for about ten months and spoke good, but heavily accented English. Let’s also just say that my wife is no old babushka. She appears as an attractive 30-something woman. Her son had arrived here the prior month, only about three weeks before our visit. He spoke almost no English and had only a Russian passport for an ID. To the average person, the two of them might have appeared to be work associates or even brother and sister.”
DeBatto was shocked.
“He asked for my ID and I handed him my retired military ID card, which he scanned and handed back to me,” he wrote on Alternet. “The security officer did not look at my wife. He did not ask her for any ID or speak with her at all. He did not look into the rear seating area of my vehicle, he did not ask for my wife’s son’s ID or speak with him at all. The security officer also did not look into my vehicle through any of the windows to do even a cursory check for anything prohibited or suspicious. I did not observe any electronic detectors, sensors, or security dogs in the vicinity.”
Both DeBatto’s foreign bride and son were puzzled as to why no one asked for ID.
“Having visited Russia several times, I was well aware of the kind of intense security surrounding their military installations,” DeBatto wrote. “What had just occurred at MacDill would be inconceivable in Russia.”
When his stepson claimed that the base could easily be blown up (even mimicking an explosion with his hands), DeBatto was ashamed.
“I know, and I am embarrassed that you and your mother were allowed onto this base unchecked and allowed to wander around all afternoon unnoticed,” he told him. “I am sorry for myself as an American veteran. And I am sorry for America for allowing this to happen.”
DeBatto insists that security measures be improved, lest another terror attack takes place on a US installation.
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