STUTTGART, Germany — Guards and military police will not begin scanning identification cards for access at most bases until next summer at the earliest.

However, in a few military communities — starting with the 293rd Base Support Battalion in Mannheim — military police and gate guards will soon begin scanning the ID cards, which are linked to the holder’s fingerprints, photograph and other data.

It will take almost a year for the rest of the military communities to get the computer hardware up and running for the Installation Access Control System.

The U.S. Army Installation Management Agency, Europe Region, has been working on the $19 million IACS since last year. Military officials believe the project will come in under budget.

IMA officials say the ID-card scanning project remains on schedule, but the current implementation times are later than what military officials had projected in June 2003.

According to a U.S. Army Europe memo, Mannheim was to be online by September, and the last installation would be Spangdahlem by about November 2004.

“Basically we’re on schedule,” Installation Management Agency-Europe spokeswoman Millie Waters wrote Wednesday in an e-mail. She wrote that the only thing changed in the schedule that went out in June is the order in which communities would get the scanners up and running.

The 98th ASG jumped up the list, for example, because its gates were more prepared to accept the system, she wrote.

“We might see similar adjustments in the future, but basically we’re on schedule,” she wrote.

The original schedule was for testing and fielding to begin in July 2003, with the last community to start the installation process 50 weeks later.

“So we are well within that time line,” Waters wrote.

The first phase of the system was implemented last week at all U.S. military installations in Europe when only people and contractors with updated ID cards and installation passes were allowed on military installations.

In a statement from IMA, the transition went smoothly although there were some “hiccups.”

Some installation pass holders did not think they needed a new pass, the statement said, but are now in the process of getting them.

For months, military community members and contractors were told they would have to either update their existing ID cards or get the new IACS passes, or they would not be given base access.

When operational, guards and military police will be equipped with hand-held scanners that will read the ID cards and give guards instant access to a person’s photograph, fingerprints and data on that person’s specific access privileges.

According to IMA, early testing at the Funari Barracks in the 293rd BSB indicated that scanning takes the same amount of time as having a guard manually read a card.

For some people in the military community, the wait has been longer than they had hoped.

“This sounds like a great security measure. I just can’t wait for it to be here,” said Allison Harper, a military spouse living on Böblingen Casern outside Stuttgart.

Harper said she had a photograph and fingerprints taken three months ago.

“I guess I’m surprised the system still isn’t up, but I can be patient,” she said.

Several steps need to be taken before the card scanners can work in a community.

A survey first has to be taken of entrance gates to make sure they are upgraded to handle the new system. The entrances may need electric or computer connections added. Next, a contractor installs the IACS hardware, and then the Office of the Provost Marshal provides training on how to operate the system.

Finally, the Provost Marshal’s office hands over the laptops with the complete IACS database to the local communities.

As of today, according to IMA, the only scanning being done is for testing and training purposes. However, the 293rd BSB should be operational in two to three weeks.

After Mannheim, the next communities to go online will be the 98th Area Support Group in Würzburg in mid-March, the 6th Area Support Group in Stuttgart by late April and the 100th Area Support Group in Grafenwöhr by late May.

In January, IMA officials said, a schedule would be released for installing IACS hardware in the remaining ASGs and U.S. Air Forces in Europe compounds.

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