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MANNHEIM, Germany — Two gates got the thumbs-up Thursday, and seven more access points should join the list by the end of next week.

While it may seem a long time in coming, U.S. Army Europe’s new Installation Access Control System is actively being used at one-third of all entry gates, said Maj. Kevin Sickinger, IACS project officer in Europe.

The rest of the gates — about 130 — should follow suit over the next six months, Sickinger said. By January, a person entering any Army installation in Europe, or any Air Force base in Germany, can expect to have his identification card verified by a gate guard with a hand-held scanner.

“It just takes time,” Sickinger said Thursday of the IACS set-up process.

Sickinger, an Army police officer, spoke from an office in Mannheim set aside to coordinate the high-tech security effort. It’s an effort that began before the 2001 terrorist attacks, but which gained momentum afterward.

Originally, USAREUR officials figured the program would become fully operational by the end of this summer. But Sickinger said the condition of some front gates, among other things, has slowed the process.

At some locations, Sickinger said, “we were starting with phone booths and plywood buildings.”

In some cases, the need to upgrade guardhouses to accommodate the system required specific contracts, which caused further delays. For a change, funding isn’t a big problem. USAREUR still has more than $3 million of an initial $19 million outlay to get the system operational.

The access system relies on information previously supplied by the ID cardholder to electronically verify whether a person is permitted to enter an installation. Registrars take such information as name, unit and date of return from overseas as well as fingerprints and a photo to build the database.

Sickinger said a major issue in some communities is the registration process. Some people may have registered as required last year, but after receiving a new ID card, for example, neglected to reregister.

Ben Dols, the IACS project manager in Schinnen, Netherlands, acknowledged that registration is an issue in his area. Roughly half of the eligible ID cardholders have yet to register to be included in the system. That sometimes means delays at the front gate.

Otherwise, Dols said, the system is “working perfectly.”

“I thought, in the beginning, we would have a lot of problems” with the system, Dols said, “but the biggest problem we have is people who are not registered.”

In a perfect world, Sickinger said, the information provided by a person to base officials when he first arrives in theater and receives his ID card should carry over to IACS. But it doesn’t, at least not yet, he added.

Ultimately, the system is designed to enhance security, even if it means an extra step or two for authorized cardholders, Sickinger said.

Army officials said people should contact their local provost marshal office to register in IACS. They also need to see the IACS officer when they get a new ID card or their DEROS changes.

The Web site has more information.

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