The heightened level of security provided by Fort Indiantown Gap’s new access control point couldn’t have come at a better time. 

With the FBI saying the Israeli-Hamas war has raised the potential for attack here in the United States, the ACP enhances security by requiring FTIG visitors to be identified before gaining access to the military installation. 

A dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held by Gap officials at the ACP earlier Wednesday morning. The main ACP complex officially opened at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Construction of the main ACP began in December 2021. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Aliyah Vivier)
A dedication ceremony for the new access control point at Fort Indiantown Gap was held on Nov. 1, 2023. (Wayne Hall)

“The gate actually came about because of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, right?” said Col. Kevin Potts, Fort Indiantown Gap base commander, during a post-ceremony press briefing. “So that was the genesis of this, and it just makes this opening or the dedication today more relevant with what is going on overseas. It just shows that it can happen at any point and we need to take our security very seriously, and I think this is a massive step forward.”

Read More: Fort Indiantown Gap base commander values his role and career of service

The Department of Defense had mandated tighter security at military installations, including ACPs, following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. 

Construction of FTIG’s new entryway on Fisher Avenue near Biddle Drive had been delayed over the years for various reasons. The Gap is the last military installation in the nation to restrict access to the general public. 

The ACP, which base officials said cost at least $13 million to construct, includes two approach and exit lanes each and three guard booths. To the right of the approach lanes, there’s a visitors center and a separate guard station behind the visitor center for all delivery vehicles to be searched and processed for admission to the base. A third building adjacent to the ACP will be the complex’s headquarters.

FTIG officials on Wednesday did not have an official project cost nor an estimate for the annual number of visitors expected to use the ACP. Whatever that number is, it’s sure to be large – last week it was announced that for the third time in four years, Fort Indiantown Gap was the busiest National Guard training center in the country.

Read More: Once again, Fort Indiantown Gap is the busiest National Guard training center

All guests will need to show security personnel either a state- or federal-issued identification to create their visitor badge once the visitor center is operational in about four to six weeks. The badge will display the person’s name, photo and the date of their visit, according to Lt. Col. Adam Love, who gave the media and ceremony attendees a tour of the visitor center.

Lt. Col. Adam Love, left, discusses protocols for obtaining a vistor badge at Fort Indiantown Gap’s new visitor center once it opens in about four to six weeks. (James Mentzer)

Love said guests should allow between 10 and 15 minutes for personnel to vet them through the national crime and terrorist databases and to process their visitor badge. Until the visitor center opens, guests will approach the ACP and show the guards state or federal identification before being granted base access.

Access to Fort Indiantown Gap is limited to individuals whose names clear both the national crime and terrorist databases. This list of 10 disqualifying factors, which is posted on the wall inside the visitors center, includes security being unable to verify an individual’s claimed identity, any felony conviction within the past 10 years, and other serious crimes. (James Mentzer)

“We’re going to do a traffic study over the next two weeks to see how many people actually pass through the gate to see if we have to do something different,” said Potts. “Whether that’s to allow people to exit at a different area or do something besides that. In two years, there’ll be another gate on the east side, but this is the only gate functioning at this point.”

Construction on the second ACP on the east end of the installation, near the intersection of Fisher Avenue and Quartermaster Road, is expected to begin in 2024 and take one year to complete. All 2,000-plus employees will enter and exit the base at that location once that gate is built.

“It will be an access point for employees, mainly employees on that side, but this one will be operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Potts about the main ACP. “When that one is built in ‘25 that one will be (open) Monday through Friday mainly for employees. It won’t have the visitors center and it won’t have the truck (access). All the trucks and all the visitors will come through this one (the main ACP).”

Potts noted the base is not closing, just limiting public access to it. 

Non-employees can still access FTIG for a variety of functions. For example, the general public is invited to attend the base’s holiday tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, at the Arrowhead Club.

“We still want to be good partners with the community and have them come on post to be able to go to the club or attend ceremonies or events that take place here on post,” said Potts. “If you have a legitimate need or want on here — to go to the museum or go to the club — you’re more than welcome to come on post.”

Potts highlighted FTIG’s symbiotic partnership with the local community during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“This project is a result of careful and thorough planning,” he said. “It embodies the power of partnership. … Beyond the official partnerships, this also would not have been possible without the partnership of our neighbors. In the words of the great American poet Robert Frost, ”great fences make great neighbors,’ so to our community partners that are here today, I want to extend my personal thanks.”

Congressman Dan Meuser, 9th Congressional District, said military personnel not only serve the nation but local communities as well.

U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser speaks at a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting for the new main access control point at Fort Indiantown Gap on Nov. 1, 2023. (Provided photo by Wayne Hall)

“So many of the National Guardsmen are local firefighters, police officers, state troopers, and they’re very active in the community and goes to show just how important this facility is to Pennsylvania since 1931,” said Meuser. “Actually, as I understand, it was officially named Fort Indiantown Gap in 1941. At that time, over 150,000 World War II soldiers were trained here before they went overseas. … Every war and every conflict since, training has taken place here.” 

Read More: 25 years ago, Fort Indiantown Gap was on track for obsolescence; instead, the PA National Guard revitalized the base

Commissioners Mike Kuhn and Jo Ellen Litz, who were in attendance for the ceremony, said afterwards that they appreciate the county’s partnership with Fort Indiantown Gap.

Fort Indiantown Gap base commander Col. Kevin D. Potts speaks with Lebanon County commissioners Mike Kuhn and Jo Ellen Litz during a dedication ceremony for the base’s new access control point on Nov. 1, 2023. (Provided photo by Wayne Hall)

“In many ways, the Gap has been a great partner for us over the years,” said Kuhn. “I think that back in the mid-’70s, in addition to all of the training it has offered the military, it offered facilities for Vietnamese refugees who needed a place to stay and transition into American life. But like I said, so many different impacts that it makes on our local community. … The work that it does to train our soldiers and keep our country safe and the world a better place is priceless.”

“We are so fortunate to have the military training here, the Guard is terrific, and the national cemetery and the VA hospital on the other end of the county,” said Litz. “Lebanon County has the military as the largest employer and many people like me, one or both of their parents were in the military and trained here at Fort Indiantown Gap. When we hear the sound of freedom flying overhead, we know we are safe.”

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James Mentzer is a freelance writer whose published works include the books Pennsylvania Manufacturing: Alive and Well; Bucks County: A Snapshot in Time; United States Merchant Marine Academy: In Service to the Nation 1943-2018; A Century of Excellence: Spring Brook Country Club 1921-2021; Lancaster...


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