Ditching Decals Won't Affect Base Security, Officials Say

By Carlton Purvis

There’s been some buzz this week among military communities after military officials announced earlier this month that they were doing away with vehicles decals at Ft. Benning, Ga. Officials say having a decal makes service members and their families targets for violence. But now that the decals are gone, what changes can service members expect from base security?

Operations will continue as normal – there just won’t be any stickers, Elsie Jackson, from Ft. Benning’s public affairs office told Security Management on Tuesday. And by ‘continue as normal,’ she means Ft. Benning will continue to use the Mobilisa system of ID verification. “That system can screen IDs and bounce the information on the IDs off of a number of databases. We’ve had it for a while,” she said.

Using Mobilisa, security personnel can use a hand-held scanner to read bar codes, magnetic stripes, and RFID on ID cards, and they can compare that data to what's in state and federal databases to instantly check for fake or expired IDs and cross reference names for warrants and watch lists.

“When you’re driving on post, you still have to go through the gate and anyone who’s 17 or older has to show a federal or state issued ID card,” Jackson said.

Ft. Benning is the first Army base to get rid of decals, but not the first military installation. The Air Force discontinued decals in 2007 after officials began questioning their purpose. Like Ft. Benning’s officials, Air Force officials felt it could attract unwanted attention for military members and their families.

Decals weren’t originally implemented for security reasons, Air Force Print News reported in 2007. They were part of traffic management, because at the time, a national vehicle registration database didn’t exist. Now that one does exist, decal numbers aren’t needed to track who is coming and going. A license plate number is enough to provide names, addresses, and other identifying information and the database and is accessible to all military and civilian law enforcement in the country.

photo by norfolkdistrict from flickr


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