Fort Bliss, TX (U.S. Army) — Following the attacks on Sept. 11, security at many military installations changed drastically as the military police, which usually guarded the installations, deployed overseas. Eventually, a civilian security force with the Directorate of Emergency Services replaced them here.
“After 9/11, the threat of a terror attack at home became a real threat all across America,” said Lt. Hector C. Molinar, a Fort Bliss DES officer. “It gives me great pride and a sense of patriotism to guard against anything happening to Fort Bliss or the people who live, work and visit the base every day.”
In addition to heightening the level of protection against possible terror threats, the guards at Fort Bliss are also the first line of defense for unsafe drivers coming to the post.
Cpl. Kip Reid, also a Fort Bliss DES officer, who previously served seven years on Active Duty with U.S. Air Force security forces, said he regularly catches intoxicated drivers coming through the gate while working the graveyard shift. He said even though the individuals he busts get angry with him, it is worth it because he knows he’s keeping drunk drivers off the roads and the Fort Bliss streets safe.
In addition to drunk drivers, the guards also catch a number of drivers trying to enter post without insurance, registration or additional infractions that include possession of firearms or illegal drugs.
One of the biggest tools the guards use to identify any possible issues is to speak with every person who comes through the gate to hear how they respond while observing their behavior during the interaction.
Reid remembers a driver came through the gate that was acting very down, depressed and conversationally unresponsive, prompting Reid to ask the man if anything was wrong, and leading to the driver admitting he was suicidal. He called the military police and they were able to get the driver the medical help he needed – saving his life.
With the winding down of the wars and the current fiscal issues – leading to civilian government worker furloughs – the people who guard Fort Bliss are transitioning again, with the civilian guards being decreased and backfilled with active-duty Soldiers.
The number of Fort Bliss DES guards, who have been securing the base for the better part of the past decade, is decreasing but they can still be found at every entry control point onto Fort Bliss.
Each gate has at least one DES officer working alongside the Soldiers, who are manning the gates, to ensure there is no security or safety gap, according to Molinar.
“We don’t just have Soldiers on Fort Bliss,” said Molinar, who grew up the son of an active-duty Soldier. “Every day there are Soldiers, family members, civilian workers and people from the El Paso community – they all deserve to be safe and I take a lot of pride in giving that to them. It makes it easy for me to get up and come to work everyday.”