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MacDill increases security

5:17 AM, May 3, 2011   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida --  MacDill Air Force Base was ordered to heighten security over the weekend, even before Osama bin Laden's death was officially announced, according to MacDill officials.

Pictures: Osama Bin Laden dead

The base is now operating under what's called Force Protection Condition Bravo, or FP Con Bravo.

For the 13,000 people who travel through MacDill's gates every day, they won't notice any significant change, but military officials stress the added protective measures are in place.

"From time to time, there might be slight backups with traffic as we check ID cards. By and large, it'll be hard to tell a difference between Alpha and Bravo," said Col. Lenny Richoux, 6th Air Mobility Wing Commander, who oversees base security.

Col. Richoux says the Department of Defense uses five levels of force protection conditions to respond to different levels of terrorist threats: Normal (no current terrorist activity), Alpha (small, unpredictable terrorist activity), Bravo (somewhat predictable terrorist activity), Charlie (terror incident has occurred or terrorist threat is imminent), and Delta (terrorist attack has/is happening).

Up until this weekend, MacDill and other bases around the world were operating at Alpha.

"The reason why we have done this is in response to any generic threat that could arise. Although we weren't given a reason to increase our force protection condition, we responded
as we could to any given threat to the base," explained Col. Richoux. "We will have an indefinite force protection condition increase until U.S. Northern Command asks us to go back
to our previous listed level."

The most obvious change can be seen along South Dale Mabry Highway as you drive toward MacDill.  A flashing road sign warns of the increased security level and that 100 percent ID checks
are in place.

The change means ID's of people coming onto the base will be more carefully scrutinized.  This could also include passengers in the vehicle.

MacDill is also home base for U.S. Central Command, which is overseeing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. Special Operations.

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