Fort Bliss Soldiers fill need, guard gate entrances due to furlough cuts
Fort Bliss, TX (U.S. Army) — As you approach the entrances to Fort Bliss, you may notice more Soldiers at the gates. As part of the ongoing furloughs, Fort Bliss security is cutting back on civilian security guards posted at each gate. To fill the need for guards, units are stepping up and doing their part.
Sequestration is the big motive behind the change according to Tomas Baca, a Fort Bliss security guard.
“One civilian guard will be at each gate,” said Baca. “The current furloughs are cutting the budget and the company can’t afford to keep full staff at each gate.”
Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, are doing their part keeping Fort Bliss safe.
Pfc. Ryan McEntire, 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, said the Soldiers receive specific training before becoming a gate guard.
“We spend 3 days total in training,” said McEntire. “Two days of shadowing either a seasoned Soldier on guard or a Fort Bliss security guard. The third day starts with a verbal test of the rules regarding safety and security while on duty.”
Spc. Franklin Tazi, a Soldier assigned to the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, said the job is all about attention to detail.
“We have to be punctual,” said Tazi. “At six thirty (a.m.) we put the road blocks into place so units can do (physical readiness training) and we make sure that no vehicles get through.”
Sometimes a friendly greeting is all you need to start your day off right. Pvt. John Maldonado from 4th Bn., 6th Inf. Regt., 4th BCT, 1st AD, said one of the best aspects of manning the gates is the interaction with the Fort Bliss community.
“Being able to greet each person individually is a real pleasure,” said Maldonado. “I’ve run into a few that just can’t be swayed, but almost everyone is happy to see a smiling face even this early in the morning.”