MacDill’s first line of defense

  • Published
  • By By Senior Airman Mariette Adams
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

With the hustle and bustle of everyday operations, security forces members at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, scan and process thousands of identification cards and base access credentials.

One of the base’s first lines of defense to preventing potential security threats from entering is the MacDill Visitor Control Center.

“We are responsible for assessing the eligibility of non-DoD visitors who require or request installation access through the evaluation of the individual’s background and criminal activity,” said Kevin Siharath, the supervisor of visitor control operations assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron. “In addition, it’s our responsibility to manage the installation access control program by issuing credentials and restricting access to only those who have a need, and individuals set forth in the Integrated Defense Plan.”

Although they work behind the scenes finding potential threats, their job is vital to the mission.

According to Air Force Manual, the objective of installation perimeter access control is to restrict and/or control entrance to property and/or installations to authorized people in order to protect personnel, resources and missions.

The visitor center staff are the gate keepers who have the means to grant or not grant access based on possible threats.

Without the credentials given by the visitor center, anyone without a military ID would not be granted access to the base.

“On average, the visitor center alone assists about 180 walk-in customers daily, which consists mostly of friends and family of base residents, or people who have business meetings with the base,” said Siharath. “We also prescreen another 200 individuals daily who have pending jobs on the base as a sub-contractor.”

These visitor center Airmen and civilians understand the seriousness of their job, and in turn conduct thorough background checks on each individual trying to gain access.

As a result of their attention to detail and dedication to their job, they are able to identify possible criminal threats and deny base access.

“We spend a considerable amount of time reviewing each person’s background before  determining eligibility of base access,” said Siharath. “On average, we identify and deny 1,500 convicted criminals and persons of interest- from federal and state agencies- annually.”

Another way the visitor center provides security to the base is through giving credentials for all foreign national visitors and coalition partners.

As a base that has two combatant commands, MacDill has a wide range of military leaders that visit the base. The visitor center ensures each visit starts off well, with proper base access.

“My favorite part of my job is knowing my team and I do our part in support of the 6th Air Mobility Wing mission and combatant command operations throughout the globe because we are responsible for ensuring global leaders and other decision makers are able to access the base smoothly,” said Siharath.

Whether it is a friend visiting a military member on the base or a foreign dignitary accessing the base for business, the visitor center is the first line of defense to keep MacDill and its Airmen safe.