While admitting that gate access is limited for security reasons, Fort Stewart Public Affairs Officer Kevin Larson said the public still is welcome to come on post and make use of most recreational facilities and restaurants.
“We are a closed post,” he said. “We do want to maintain our security, but our neighbors in the community are welcome to come on post to use our golf course, bowling alleys (and other recreational facilities).”
Larson listed the dining opportunities and recreational facilities open to the civilian public. Only the commissary, post exchange and shoppettes are limited to active-duty soldiers, retirees and family members.
Arthur Weston, chief of security for the Directorate of Emergency Services, said the civilian community can access the main gate (Gate 1) on Gen. Screven Way through the visitor or “non-decal” lane. They need only a valid driver’s license, registration and insurance card or appropriate rental agreement, he said.
Weston said a new policy change called Rapid Gate will only affect contractors, subcontractors and vendors coming on the installation.
“It’s a tool we’ll be using to identify those personnel who don’t have a common access card or (military) identification card,” he said. “It will be at all gates, but since Gate 7 is our commercial gate, much of that traffic is pushed to that gate. These contractors will be issued printed credentials similar to common access card that helps us identify who’s coming on post.”
Another change that is coming is not yet mandatory, Weston said. One lane is being set aside for an Automatic Installation Entry System. The driver’s pre-programmed CAC or ID card is swiped through the AIE scanner, which causes his or her personal information and photo to come up on a monitored security screen. If the driver is alone, a gate will lift to allow access on post.
If the driver has passengers, Weston said the gate will not open until a security guard comes to the driver’s-side window to check identification of all passengers. He said this also occurs in the other lanes and advises drivers with the AIE system coded on their ID cards not to use that gate when carrying passengers because it holds up traffic.
“In the old days before 9/11, you didn’t have all this security,” said Weston, explaining that a full implementation date of AIE system is undetermined. “We’re just trying to be a more secure-conscious, safety-minded installation. My boss hired me to maintain security, and that’s what I’m doing.”
Weston said military civilians, soldiers and retirees wanting to have their CAC and ID cards updated for the AIE system can go to the same building they got their post decal, building 226 located near Gate 2. He said gate hours are listed on the installation website, www.stewart.army.mil.