YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Force protection improvements at Area II base gates are due, in part, to the 100 to 150 military identification cards reported lost each month, the Area II commander said Thursday.

In a quarterly radio town hall meeting, Col. Timothy McNulty said area residents could expect a few more days of construction on security improvements, including large pop-up barriers just inside the base gates.

“With that number of cards floating out and about, we need to ensure people coming onto the base are who they say they are,” McNulty said on the American Forces Network call-in program, which brought together leaders of about a dozen tenant command and base organizations.

Contract gate guards have been checking all IDs with an electronic scanner, which compares the card with an information database and photos compiled by military police. Each ID card holder is required to be registered with the system, known as BIDS, officials have said.

A second form of ID now is required at gates where guards do not have scanners.

In a related issue, a caller brought up a question about officers being saluted when they come into gates. The caller asked if the practice could be discontinued, saying it was a potential tip-off for anyone seeking to follow or harm senior military personnel.

“It’s a military installation and military courtesy,” McNulty said in defending the practice.

Another caller brought up the issue of school availability. The caller, who lives in the Osan Air Base area, said he’s a contractor and therefore low on the priority list for slots in Department of Defense Dependents Schools. The caller asked if, since the Osan school could not accept his child, he could try to enroll the student at Yongsan Garrison’s Seoul American School.

DODDS rules prevent that from happening, officials said, but an exemption could be requested from the district superintendent. With many units and contractors beginning to shift south to bases in the Pyongtaek region, the caller was concerned the school crowding would only get worse.

Touching on the base relocation issue and the now-signed agreement to vacate Yongsan Garrison by 2008, McNulty said many base improvements or new construction would be reevaluated. But he promised services would not be reduced.

“We’ll be ready to deal with it when it happens,” he said of the base closing. “But until then, we will use all of our resources to keep what we’ve got, keep it in good shape.”

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