SSC-Natick Press ReleaseU.S. Army Soldier Systems
Public Affairs Office
Contact: Public Affairs Office
Date: June 2, 2008
Gate guards ensure
security and good first impression
Lt. Timothy Konetzny, gate guard,
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center, Natick, Mass., examines
identification badge prior to allowing employee access to the
installation. (Photo by Patty Welsh) |
Click for Larger Photo
NATICK, Mass. -- When
arriving at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (SSC) here,
employees and visitors are greeted by the courteous and professional
staff members from TW and Company, Inc., who serve as gate guards.
Michael Bren, project manager, said the goal of the staff is to
provide a friendly environment at the gates for the personnel on
post and their visitors. But he also emphasizes that the guards are
trained and able to respond to any event.
Although Bren's background is in law enforcement, he said a number
of the guards come in with no security background. "We have a lot of
veterans, and some kids right out of college or the military. For
some it's a retirement job. They [all] got right into learning the
role and the job," he said of the current crew. "We do 120 hours of
training, some base specific, some regarding military codes,
training on state laws and on weapons. We're assisted by the DoD
Police for hands-on training."
The employees learn right away that this is an intensive security
job, Bren continued. "We want to ensure the employees know that we
know how to protect them, which makes everyone feel more
Sgt. James Corbett, a Vietnam-era veteran who has been SSC's officer
of the year twice, said the guards try to make the visitors as
comfortable as possible and get them in as fast as possible.
"In my position as sergeant, part of my job is to go through emails
to see who is coming in and make sure everyone is notified,
especially if there are VIPs or media," he said. "Visitors cannot
come on post without an appointment," he emphasized, "and we have to
confirm that. If they have an appointment but we are not aware of
it, we will try to contact the employee, but sometimes they may be
away from their desk. We will try second and third point of
contacts, but we are supposed to send them away if we cannot reach
anyone within 20 to 30 minutes." As a reminder, he said all foreign
visitors need to have their passport and be escorted.
Corbett encourages employees who are anticipating visitors to send a
detailed email to the guards at: NATI-Guards-Police-SSC. "This will
make the employees', the visitors' and the guards' lives easier," he
One of his favorite parts of the job is working at the main gate. "I
like the interaction with employees," he said. "I want to make the
base as safe as possible, to make the employees as safe as
On a daily basis, the guards could be assigned to the main gate, the
service gate or the Visitor's Center and they usually rotate
positions during the day.
Both Bren and Corbett agree that one of the challenges of the job is
dealing with commercial vehicles at the service gate.
"Day to day we want to ensure safety." Bren said. "We can be
inspecting up to 200 vehicles a day and you never know what you
might be dealing with, drugs, weapons, health hazards. The
inspections are thorough."
Since December 2006, when TW and Company, Inc., took over the
contract for the guards, more than 140 illegal or unauthorized entry
attempts have been prevented and more than 75 seizures of illegal
drugs have been made, he continued.
Corbett said there is always the chance that something could happen.
"Since 9/11, the world is not the same," he said. "That's why we try
to ensure we do our job properly."
He mentioned that after Sept. 11, 2001, it was a change for the
employees, especially those who had been working at SSC a long time,
to get used to the security procedures. "They're used to it now," he
continued, "so the job becomes ensuring we are asking visitors the
Another challenge mentioned was dealing with the ever-changing New
England weather. "You need to bring all your gear all the time,"
Bren also spoke about supporting special events on the installation.
"Recently, we had the Medal of Honor ceremony. The company itself
[TW and Company, Inc.] went out of its way to ensure we could have
extra employees that day. They also did that for the Weapons of Mass
Destruction exercise. We provide support to ensure the success of
This is an installation with very big highs and lows, Bren said. You
have the hustle and bustle of daytime, which is normally very
active, and nighttime is usually quiet. "They tell me it's just them
and the raccoons," he says of the guards working at night. "They
have to be very disciplined."
Previously, Bren said, it was thought that the guards needed to be
kind of tough-acting. "This is not an installation where that
works," he said. "We're more about community service. However, we
are a very proactive company that always goes a step further in
protecting our community."
Corbett said as SSC is a smaller installation, you get to know the
majority of the personnel coming to work everyday.
"I also encourage the guards' participation in off-duty activities
that are happening on the installation," Bren said. Joining the
softball league or attending functions at the Community Center lets
the guards meet the employees on a personal level.
"Our job is to make everyone visiting feel welcome," said Corbett.
"They're all bigwigs to us."