•  Carrier

Unlike other military entities, the U.S. National Guard has a strong relationship with the community it serves. Public accessibility is one special characteristic customarily keeping the Guard comfortably close to the civilian population.

The homeland defense environment, however, is increasingly prone to misperceptions that can damage even the best of community relations. Upgrades of facilities can unwittingly become fortifications, but mission and homeland stakeholder expectations have grown dramatically since 2001.   Regardless, force protection development is possible without threatening the sustainability of the special relationship between the National Guard and the community. 

The March 2003 Defense Report, a publication of the U.S. Army’s Institute of Land Warfare, described the Army National Guard and Reserve as “plagued by a crumbling infrastructure,” citing the following facts:

  • 28,500 National Guard facilities;
  • assets valued at $29 billion;
  • average facility age of 39 years; and
  • a backlog of modernization investment estimated at $7 billion.


The publication succinctly distinguished the unique nature of Army National Guard and Reserve facilities, stating that the facilities are the heart and soul ofoperations; are much more than drill sites;serve both unit and community; are a crucial link with the American citizen population; are recruitment and induction centers; connect with youth; and that the facilities are where new technologies are introduced, new security and antiterrorism force protection issues trained, and emergency responses planned, commanded and controlled.

Many military design guidance and mandate sources contribute to the design process for National Guard facilities. Joint Force Readiness Centers, Aviation Support Facilities and Regional Training Institutes all have their own special needs.  A significant modernization program now underway is accompanied by an ongoing question: How will the National Guard mission be sustained into the future through facilities that will be exposed to obsolescence factors much earlier than their predecessors?

With electronic security systems, accelerated obsolescence is affecting video surveillance, access management and intruder detection. It is probable that by 2015 the most energy- and operationally-efficient security configurations will be Internet Protocol-centric, integrated systems that support smart building and smart campus facilities.

Planners should aim for optimum visibility of key areas of a facility with blind spots eliminated. The perimeter, vehicle and pedestrian entrances and exits, dumpsters, fuel storage, parking lots, public approach and internal roadways, and landscaping all come within this scope.

There are many routine but underutilized benefits from a quality surveillance system. Monitoring safety, weather and traffic movement within the perimeter all provide operational value.  Surveillance cameras become the tools of discipline when Force Protection Conditions are elevated through periods of heightened threat. Quality surveillance will provide commanders with the best available real-time evaluation of the ability to deploy. Getting personnel in, equipped and safely out of the facility in emergency response mode in an optimum timeframe is the desired and essential outcome.


Structures and Blast Exposure
Recently, a considerable bolstering of glazing blast mitigation standards for Department of Defense facilities and installations was introduced in the Unified Facilities Criteria UFC 4-010-01 DOD Minimum Antiterrorism Standards for Buildings.  This updated version significantly increased specification of standards for anti-blast glazing, which now consist of 22 sub-rules plus guide tables, an increase from five sub rules in the 2002 and earlier 2003 versions.

Explosive experts in the private sector, however, believe further revision is warranted through broader application of analysis models for the prevention and mitigation of progressive collapse risk for of three-story and taller structures.

Designs found in UFC 4-022-01 Security Engineering: Entry Control Facilities/Access Control Points are increasingly pertinent for National Guard facilities. Unfortunately, full build-out of the best access control points (ACP) reveals an appetite for real estate, swallowing up acreage and imposing additional infrastructure cost. A contingency plan to preserve space for future installation is wise.  A vehicle security reception via a well-designed ACP is one feature that will help maintain the special relationship of accessibility for visitors to the facility.

Without the benefit of reliable foresight, force protection conditions elevation must be anticipated and accommodated. When responding to incidents or  intelligence that justify higher vigilance and protection, facility layout and structural characteristics should not impose avoidable operating cost and unnecessary risk exposure on the personnel or the mission of the particular installation.  In the years ahead, an increase in the personnel and equipment deployable from these sites is expected, notably the specialized resources of the Civil Support Teams that at the present time are not adequately accommodated.
Community Engagement
Civil representation at consultative pre-planning meetings is one way to ensure the community relationship is not only preserved but seen to be valued by the National Guard.  Civic expertise and connections contribute to the process, given that in the urban setting of many National Guard facilities, the neighborhood, traffic and logistics conditions are influenced by the civil authority planners. An entire facility and its mission can be compromised by failure to take account of the macro environment. Hazards from railroad operations, aerospace conditions, busy intersections, industrial sites, potential conflicts with commercial interests, future construction developments and emergency response coordination issues all are in the mix.

The Charrette Process
A primary contribution toward best outcome for force protection design and longevity comes from the charrette process. The Charrette Institute defines this as “…a multi-day planning process during which an interdisciplinary professional design team creates a complete and buildable smart growth plan that reflects the input of all stakeholders who are involved by engaging them in a series of feedback loops.”

The charrette process provides an excellent opportunity for inclusion of all stakeholders. Local interpretation and application of stakeholder inclusiveness should capture security considerations early on.  At one such charrette exercise, a member of the civic community expressed appreciation and relief at being able to report back to both colleagues and community that design considerations for a proposed National Guard site modernization in Delaware were attractive and compatible with the immediate neighborhood. The inclusion of this community representative at the charrette placed the Delaware National Guard in the best possible light and is a model to be recommended for all significant modernization projects.

Avoiding Obsolescence
One lesson for security and force protection practitioners is that stereotypical images do not help budget-strained, time-strapped design project managers ensure the best possible outcome. Building fortresses or trying to counter an imagined and seemingly endless list of risks is not the goal. Supporting homeland defense and emergency response missions of the National Guard by helping devise designs and systems that work for the facility occupants, not the other way around, is the goal.

All National Guard installation security plans need built-in obsolescence programs that follow design-concept-planned flow of maintenance, emulation and migration. 

David Forbes is Security Analyst, Coover-Clark Assoc., Denver, Colo.; 303-783-0040, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..