Air Force blames human error for unauthorized man boarding plane at Joint Base Andrews

The Air Force is blaming human error after an unauthorized man gained entry to the base where the president’s plane is kept and boarded a C-40 aircraft used to transport high ranking officials and military officers.

An Air Force Inspector General report found that a “fully qualified and trained security forces gate guard was complacent and failed to follow established procedures.”

The guard did not use his Defense Biometric Identification System (DBIDS) scanner to check the civilian’s credentials and did not identify that the civilian did not have proper authorization to enter the base. The report states the guard was distracted by personal issues.

“Had the guard followed properly established procedures, the civilian’s vehicle would have been turned around at the gate,” the report states.

“We had a security forces airman that allowed this individual on base without checking proper credentials,” Air Force Inspector General Lt. Gen. Sami Said told reporters Thursday. “The airman acknowledged that they have the necessary training, they understand it, they’ve utilized it. In this particular instance, they were distracted and did not follow procedure.”

Another issue is the fact that no one on base challenged the man’s presence for the time he was on the base.

The man did not get near Air Force One and other aircraft related to the president’s detail and they are protected by an extra layer of security, Said said.

On Feb. 4, a 36-year-old man from Germantown, Maryland, drove on to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland around 7:15 a.m. and stayed on the installation for about five hours before he was detected. He was able to visit the food court, the terminal and spent hours observing the airport before walking through a gap in a gate to enter the flight line.

From there he boarded a plane that was preparing for training and had two airmen aboard. The airmen did not challenge the intruder. From there he exited the aircraft and walked back to the gate where he was apprehended by security forces after two Air Force personnel from the passenger terminal alerted them. The man was arrested for unauthorized access to the flight line.

The intruder claimed he just wanted to see airplanes, Said said. There was no indication that he was on drugs or alcohol. However, in an interview on Feb. 9, he said he did not remember being on the base.

Said said the incident is a lesson to security forces airmen about how they should approach duty.

“There is no tolerance for error in such mission set because you allow unauthorized people on our installations,” he said. “We just keep drumming it into our Airmen to go, ‘Hey, you’ve got to be vigilant.’ If you can’t come on shift because you have something in your personal life that is distracting to you, then you owe it to everybody around you to identify that and come off shift and let somebody else pull your shift. We can’t let your personal life impact security.”

The Air Force is conducting a review of its security on all of its bases in response to the incident.

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