Access control program enhances installation security through modernization

Huntsville Center Public Affairs
Published Nov. 1, 2023
Three contractors in hard hats and safety vests stand near an activated vehicle barrier at Fort Sill , Oklahoma.

Contractors oversee the operation of an Active Vehicle Barrier system at Fort Sill, Oklahoma early last year. The U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville Access Control Program, working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Protective Design Center (PDC) at Omaha District, is modernizing ACP systems to to ensure they continue meeting federal and Department of Defense standards for safety and security.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- More than 20 years ago after the 9-11 attacks, the U.S. Department of Defense directed its installations to adopt closed-post security measures to improve security and prevent future terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

To lead in the efforts to keep military installations and other federal agency facilities safe and secure, the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville stood up an Access Control Point (ACP) Program to provide for secure access and prevent unauthorized ground vehicles from gaining entry.

In the years following the terror attacks, Huntsville Center’s ACP Program directed its contracting, management, and engineering capabilities to provide design-build construction, procurement and installation of physical security equipment and infrastructure upgrades.

After the post 9-11 surge in military and other federal installation ACP upgrades, the program focused on ensuring the systems performed as intended with maintenance activities tailored to customer’s operational needs.

Today, Huntsville Center’s ACP Program is modernizing to improve installation security.

Lauren Ross, ACP program manager, said the program currently has seven contracts with 10-12 ACP modernization projects ongoing each year.

“The combined efforts of the ACP Program’s project managers save the Government millions each year and ensures the safety and security of DoD personnel nationwide,” Ross said.

Ross said the ACP Program’s modernization efforts provide new or replacement Active Vehicle Barrier (AVB) systems to increase ACP security positions through the continental U.S. (CONUS) including Alaska and Hawaii.

Ross said the ACP Program works closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Protective Design Center (PDC) at Omaha District to ensure that all AVB systems meet the latest and greatest Army standards for safety and security.

“In the past few years, the ACP program has installed upwards of 35 new barriers across the U.S. and improved dozens by leveraging technical expertise within USACE to provide customers the best project value,” Ross said.

Technology related to the ACP Program’s modernization efforts have slowly but surely improved over the years.

Brecken Bailey, ACP Program project manager, said one key example is improvement to the Active Vehicle Barrier system controls.

During the initial Army push to install AVBs post-9/11, AVB controls were mechanical buttons on a fixed console, she explained.

Over the years these controls evolved and interactive touchscreen AVB system control consoles are now readily available and affordable.

“The touchscreens give the installations a more user-friendly system with more features improving the guards’ ability to monitor the systems,” Bailey said.

Another way that technology has improved within the ACP Program is drone technology.

 “We are experienced in developing standard compliant solutions for unique and challenging ACP layouts and drones can be -- and have been -- used to scan and help map out the geography at an ACP which assists the engineers with their designs,” Bailey said.

Although Huntsville Center’s ACP program is busy with its modernization efforts, the Center doesn’t work alone.

The program partners with many USACE components to provide maintenance and services, design -build construction, and infrastructure upgrades to ACPs and other facilities worldwide.

“It’s teamwork that make the program successful,” Ross said.

“The ACP Program has an excellent spirit of teamwork with a mission focus. The entire Project Development Team (PDT) understands the importance of the work that we do providing security and safety to DOD personnel and their families who work and live on Installations. We maintain close ties and take care of one another,” Ross said.