NEWS | June 11, 2021

Feedback Fridays

By Brig. Gen. Caroline M. Miller 502d Air Base Wing Commander

Feedback Fridays is a weekly forum that aims to connect the 502d Air Base Wing with members of the Joint Base San Antonio community. Questions are collected during commander’s calls, town hall meetings and throughout the week.

If you have a question or concern, please send an email to jbsapublicaffairs@gmail.com using the subject line “Feedback Fridays.” Questions will be further researched and published as information becomes available.

Q. This is in reference to ID checks at the gate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The morning of May 6 at JBSA-Lackland, I was coming in one of the gates, I noticed a Security Forces Squadron member taking everyone's Common Access Card for a brief moment, and thought, that's a good way to cross-contaminate while we are dealing with COVID-19. There was no cleaning of hands in between, which would slow the process down. 

I was hesitant to hand mine over because I didn't want my CAC to be contaminated. I showed both sides of the CAC and the member still had to take hold of it. The defender stated it was policy, which I know there are the "occasional" checks, but everyone's ID?

This is the first time in the past year anyone other than myself has touched my CAC.  This is true for all the personnel I work with who also came through this gate. No one was comfortable with getting a "dirty" CAC handed back to them.

Is there not a more sanitary way while we deal with COVID-19 when the Defense Biometrics Identification Systems (DBIDS) is not being utilized? Or perhaps we stick to the SFS member simply asking us to flip over our ID as we have been?

A. Thank you for your question about Security Forces handling ID cards at the gates. It is Department of Defense policy that anytime the DBIDS is not functioning or available, all ID cards must physically be handled and checked to validate authenticity. 

In addition, Defenders have the authority to physically handle ID cards anytime they believe there is a need.  This is done to ensure the safety and security of the installation and mission. 

We recommend you clean your ID card off as soon as possible to minimize any concerns you may have with it being physically handled.  Thank you again for your feedback, patience, and for assisting us in protecting personnel and our critical missions

Q. I am a resident of JBSA-Fort Sam Houston. I would like to make a request/voice a frustration.

The transmission of the Giant Voice (GV) information is consistently, and painfully, difficult to understand.  It is not occasionally, it is every time.  If the purpose of the Giant Voice is to disseminate information quickly, to help those on post get to safety, it is woefully lacking. It creates chaos that doesn't need to be and puts people on alert when there is "lightning within 5 nautical miles." 

Although I am confident that the man who has been chosen to convey these messages is a lovely person, the male voice is inherently difficult to hear over the radio, especially when there is interference, such as winds/heavy rains/etc.  The pitch of the female voice (assuming her to be a mezzo-soprano or higher) is much easier to hear.

Please, fix this. And to clarify, making the Wednesday test come out as, "This.... Is.... A.... Test.... Of..." is not an improvement.

I personally am a huge fan of Charlie Brown specials, but I would rather save them for Christmas than when danger is imminent. Thank you, for your time.

A. Thank you for your feedback. The Giant Voice system that is used across all JBSA locations (-Lackland, -Randolph, -Fort Sam Houston, and -Camp Bullis) is a U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense mandated and regulated program.

The Giant Voice often uses a pre-programmed voice, on a sound card at the GV towers. The sound card is provided by the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force.

Only on extremely rare occasions, command post personnel will utilize their own voice to inform the base populous of important warnings.

While we are unable to control the speech patterns and dialects of the voices on those occasions the Command Post is able and willing to look into other pre-programmed voice sound cards. However, this may consist of removing one sound card from a tower and installing a new card. Replacing the sound cards would take time, funding, and coordination between our radio shop, vendor, and certain towers would be offline for an unknown amount of time to replace said cards.

The Wednesday GV tests are mandated tests that are conducted in accordance with USAF and DOD guidelines to ensure our towers are working and operational. In addition, lightning within 5 nautical miles are GV messages that are relayed across each JBSA location to notify the base populous (residents, trainees, students, outdoor personnel) the potential to be struck by lightning exists and to seek immediate shelter indoors.  

The command post uses an additional software program called AtHoc to push the warning messages to all bases quickly and to allow the on-shift controller to multitask more efficiently.

Whenever a GV message is relayed across the base, a simultaneous message is sent via AtHoc to a respondent’s NIPR desktop computer, cell phone, work email, etc.  

In this regard, if a person is unable to hear a GV message and/or if they are in a location that would make it impossible to hear the warning message (i.e., inside the FSH Commissary, high winds, etc.), the emergency message would still be able to reach the audience. 

Please see more information about the AtHoc system at https://www.jbsa.mil/News/News/Article/1188987/updated-athoc-alert-system-delivers-urgent-news-directly-to-subscribers-fingert/.