Fort Stewart is installing cameras and scanners at post gates to prepare for bringing its new Automated Installation Entry system online in February.
Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Milton said he is hopeful the new system will ease traffic backups onto the installation, as certain lanes will be designated for the AIE system.
Milton explained that soldiers, military family members and retirees can register online in the near future, so they can drive on post in the AIE-designated lanes.
The coming automated system also should free up staffing at the gates, Milton said.
“The contract for Wackenhut Services Inc. ends Oct. 31, and we have hired Department of Defense guards to take some of those positions,” Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said. “The swiping machines are not at all gates, though the gates they are at (will help) free up manpower.”
The colonel said 122 DoD security guards have been positioned at installation gates.
“We will lose the remaining 31 contract security guards,” Milton said. “To fill the void, we will have 35 soldiers on the gates.”
Cost-cutting measures like the AIE system are nothing new, the colonel said. Fort Stewart has had to deal with budget cuts for the past two years, according to Milton.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who sees a difference (in services),” he said.
The colonel said the challenge is to look at each service independently, to weigh what is necessary — like Army Family Covenant programs — and what can be done without.
In early 2010, Fort Stewart reduced operating hours at Newman Gym and began emptying dumpsters less frequently and not mowing grass in common areas as often.
“We have reduced our non-tactical vehicles by more than 150 over the past two years,” Milton said.
He also said investments must be made sometimes to make certain operations more effective and efficient, thereby saving expenses in the long term.
Milton said “just shy of $1 million” was spent to bring a wood-fire boiler online at Fort Stewart’s Central Energy Plant to help save on utility costs.
“The fuel source — wood chips — is much cheaper than electricity,” he said.
Milton mentioned new pumps also were installed to improve air-conditioning and heating inside the garrison area, which also helps reduce utility costs.
The colonel said installation leaders are committed “to providing quality services and the type of services our soldiers and their family members deserve.”
Construction projects on post still are going strong, he said, explaining that the funding for most of the building was set aside in FY 2010.
The gym on the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team campus should be completed by mid-November, and the 4th IBCT troop medical clinic is scheduled to open next summer, he said.
The garrison commander said a number of company operational facilities and battalion headquarters are being built, and motor pools for the 3rd Sustainment Brigade on 15th Street also are under construction.
In addition, a new youth center and school-age services center also are in the works, Milton said.