Air Force done with decals

In 2005, the Air Force spent $727,000 printing vehicle decals. (CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson)

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer

Vehicle decals will no longer be required to enter Air Force bases in the United States, according to Air Force officials.

A February memo issued by Air Combat Command (ACC), which oversees Cannon Air Force Base, instructed installation commanders to discontinue registering privately owned vehicles and issuing decals, Maj. Thomas Crosson, a public affairs officer for ACC at Langley Air Force Base, Va., said Friday.

The suggested effective policy date is March 15, he said, though the dates were left to the discretion of commanders.

The change has already taken effect at Cannon, said Capt. Rebecca Garcia, Cannon spokesperson.

In the pre-Sept. 11 era, vehicle decals were the key to base admittance, security guards often simply waving cars through upon seeing the stickers. However Sept. 11 brought about heightened security, including 100 percent identification checks at the gates of military bases, Crosson said.

“Since 9/11, every base has someone at the gate checking IDs,” he said. “Whether you’ve got a sticker or not, you have to show your ID. So why have the decals?”

There are 1.66 million vehicles registered with the Air Force, Crosson said. In 2005, $727,000 was spent just printing decals. Each installation has to provide personnel to register those vehicles, he said.

“Essentially it’s a cost-saving measure,” Crosson said. “It’s also a manpower measure.”

Garcia stressed the new policy does not make access to Cannon less secure.

“This will in no way ease security measures or access to the base,” she said.

“Post 9/11, installation security measures were necessarily heightened and remain at a heightened level,” Garcia said. “The new base decal policy will not affect security at Cannon Air Force Base. It means the elimination of redundant paperwork processing.”

Most people will notice no change, and decals do not need to be removed until they expire, Crosson said.

“We have not told people to remove your stickers. We’ve essentially (just) directed (Air Force installations) to stop issuing stickers.”

Strictly an Air Force policy at this time, Crosson said personnel visiting bases of other military branches will be subject to the policies of those installations. Some may still require vehicle registration.

Cannon officials said anyone with questions about entrance procedures can call the visitors center at 784-2400.