Base Security: Evaluation of Alleged Weaknesses at the Miesau Army Depot

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-12-04.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)


                               BASE SECURITY
Ihw~IIltwr   IWO

                               Evaluation of Alleged
                               Weaknesses at the
                               Miesau Army Depot


                   RESTRICTED--      Not to be released outside the
                   General Accounting Office unless speci.flcally
                   approved by the Offlce of Congressional

_.._I-_ _.---._ .-.   .._..-_-__.- --.--.-__---   _-___-._-._   --
                       United States
GAO                    General Accounting Office
                       Washington, D.C. 20648

                       National Security and
                       International Affairs Division

                       B-241 142

                       December 4, 1990

                       The Honorable Sam Nunn
                       Chairman, Committee on
                         Armed Services
                       United States Senate

                       Dear Mr. Chairman:

                       This report responds to your June 1990 request that we review allega-
                       tions made by an Army staff sergeant concerning the working condi-
                       tions, safety, and overall security at the Miesau Army Depot in -West
                       Germany. Specifically, the sergeant stated that the military dog han-
                       dlers (from the 66th Military Police Company) who patrol the perimeter
                       of the depot are placed in a vulnerable position because they

                   l   are not allowed to carry loaded weapons,
                   l   are not provided advanced body armor,
                   l   do not have adequate communications equipment,
                   l   do not have sufficient backup, and
                   l   are fatigued from an overly demanding work schedule.

                       The sergeant also pointed out two incidents in which he thought the
                       security at the Miesau Depot had been jeopardized-a   gate crashing and
                       fences damaged by storms.

                       You also asked that we compare the security conditions at the Miesau
                       Depot with those at other similar U.S. facilities in Europe.

                       Most of the working conditions that the sergeant pointed out did exist at
Results in Brief       the time he wrote his letter in February 1990. The Miesau dog handlers
                       were not allowed to carry loaded weapons; they were not issued more
                       advanced type body armor; their communications equipment was not
                       always functioning properly; and they were working as many as 10 con-
                       secutive days before getting a day off.

                       Various Army officials we interviewed in Europe agreed with the ser-
                       geant’s concerns about the communications equipment and work sched-
                       ules and are considering some steps to resolve these problems. However,
                       because Miesau is considered a low-terrorist threat environment, these
                       officials do not believe that Miesau warrants the use of loaded weapons,
                       advanced type body armor, or additional backup response capability.

                       Page 1                                     GAO/NSIAD-91-19   Miesau Army Depot

                   Also, Army officials do not believe the two incidents cited by the ser-
                   geant had jeopardized the security at Miesau.

                   The security conditions at Miesau are not comparable to those of other
                   Army conventional ammunition storage facilities in Europe. For
                   example, no other facility uses dog handlers, so many of the unique
                   problems experienced at Miesau- shortage of dog handlers necessi-
                   tating long work hours and the difficulty in loading weapons while con-
                   trolling dogs-would not be present. Also, the other facilities are
                   smaller than Miesau so communications hampered by longer distances
                   and terrain conditions would not be a problem.

                   Overall, our limited review at Miesau and at another storage site did not
                   identify any significant weaknesses in security provisions which would
                   warrant a more detailed examination.

                   The Reserve Storage Activity in Miesau is a component of the 60th Ord-
Background         nance Group of the 21st Theater Army Area Command (TAACOM), U.S.
                   Army, Europe (USAREUR). Miesau Army Depot is the largest ammunition
                   storage, maintenance, and distribution center in West Germany. It con-
                   sists of a 2,436-acre storage area in Miesau and a 2,521-acre storage
                   area in Weilerbach, West Germany. At these storage areas, Miesau
                   issues, receives, stores, transports, inspects, renovates, maintains, and
                   accounts for all types of conventional ammunition and small missiles.

                   The storage areas are secured with a combination of physical barriers
                   and guard personnel. Physical barriers include a perimeter fence and
                   magazines with an intrusion detection system, locks, and seals. The
                   4099th Civilian Guard Group, which is authorized 192 German civilian
                   guards, is the primary security guard force. This group is augmented by
                   dog teams from the 66th Military Police Company. These dog teams
                   (each made up of a military working dog and a dog handler) patrol the
                   perimeter fences of the Miesau and Weilerbach storage areas at night.

                   The sergeant and other dog handlers at Miesau believed that they had
Dog Handlers Not   been placed in a very vulnerable position because they were not allowed
Allowed to Carry   to carry loaded weapons. They told us of several past incidents of poten-
Loaded Weapons     tial danger with intruders and problems with wild boars, including one
                   incident in which a boar had severely injured a guard dog. They also
                   said that it was very difficult for a dog handler to load a weapon while
                   handling a dog that had become excited because of an intruder or a wild

                   Page 2                                      GAO/NSIAD91-19   Miesau Army Depot

                   animal. In addition to holding the dog leash, the dog handler needs both
                   hands to hold the gun (a 45-caliber pistol), insert the magazine, and
                   chamber a round.

                   According to the dog handlers, carrying loaded weapons is common and
                   is not considered a safety problem at other locations. They said that
                   they had carried loaded weapons at previous posts while working as dog
                   handlers or while performing other types of military police duties. As an
                   example of differences in practice, they told us about the use of loaded
                   weapons by dog handlers at special weapons storage sites.

                   IJSAHEIJR, 21st TAACOM, and Miesau officials said that Miesau is consid-
                   ered a low-threat environment and that patrolling with loaded weapons
                   is not warranted. These officials said that guards who patrol at conven-
                   tional ammunition storage sites throughout IJSAREURare not allowed to
                   carry loaded weapons because they are not considered a prime terrorist
                   target. The officials believed that a terrorist would probably attempt to
                   avoid detection before reaching an ammunition storage target.

                   IJnder IJSAREIJRregulations, the 21st TAACOM commander has authority to
                   establish policy regarding loaded weapons. The 2 1st TAACOM has decided
                   that patrolling with unloaded weapons at conventional ammunition
                   storage sites is prudent based on the assessment of a low-terrorist
                   threat, coupled with a concern for accidental weapon discharges. Dog
                   handlers and other patrolling guards are required to carry loaded
                   weapons at the special weapons storage facilities in Europe, because the
                   Army considers the threat at these sites to be greater due to the type of
                   weapons being stored.

                   The sergeant and other dog handlers acknowledge that they are issued a
Advanced Body      vest made of kevlar, but they seldom wear it because they contend that
Armor Not Issued   the vest is too bulky and does not offer adequate protection. The dog
                   handlers believe that they should have available for their use the pro-
                   tection gear that is referred to as “second chance” body armor. They
                   said that patrolling the perimeter fence on foot at Miesau places them in
                   a sufficiently vulnerable position to warrant such equipment. As evi-
                   dence of the need and practical use of second chance body armor, the
                   dog handlers told us that their counterparts at special weapons sites use
                   this equipment. All the dog handlers we interviewed said that they
                   would wear the more advanced body armor if it were available.

                   Page 3                                      GAO/NSIAD-91-19   Miesau hy   Depot

                 USAREURofficials said that they do not issue second chance body armor
                 to the dog handlers at conventional arms storage sites because it is not
                 the normal body armor provided by the Army supply system. The
                 advanced body armor can be purchased with local funds if the com-
                 mander can justify the higher cost. Miesau officials said that, according
                 to records for the last 4 years, no shots have been fired at guards; there-
                 fore, they believe that the threat conditions do not warrant the addi-
                 tional costs associated with the second chance body armor.

                 The sergeant said that radios used by the dog handlers are 15 years old
Problems With    and do not work 80 percent of the time. The sergeant had not main-
Communications   tained records to substantiate his allegation. Rather, the stated failure
Equipment        rate was his estimate of the time that the radios did not function prop-
                 erly because they had malfunctioned, had weak batteries, or were in
                 “dead zones” (areas where interference prevents the radios from
                 working properly). The sergeant and other dog handlers said that the
                 radios have been a long-standing problem.

                 Miesau officials did not agree that the radio malfunctions were as severe
                 as alleged by the sergeant but did agree that the communication system
                 needed improvement and that they were in the process of installing new
                 equipment. Miesau officials provided us a log that listed the radios’
                 repair history since October 1989. The log showed that from 1 to 5 of
                 the 17 radios available to dog handlers at Miesau required repair each
                 month. These officials said that if other radios were malfunctioning or
                 experiencing battery problems, the dog handlers should have reported
                 these problems so that the equipment could have been repaired.

                 Miesau officials agreed that the dead zones had created a significant
                 problem but said that this problem will be eliminated when the new
                 equipment is installed. Miesau purchased 40 new radios and base sta-
                 tions with the objectives of (1) providing the capability for private
                 (encrypted) conversations and (2) replacing equipment that, according
                 to the 1988 justification, was considered outdated and required contin-
                 uous repair and maintenance. The new equipment arrived in February
                 1990 and was initially assigned to the civilian support guards who are
                 responsible for security at the gates and checks of storage bunkers at
                 Miesau because they had radios older than the ones used by the dog

                 When the new Miesau commander arrived in May, he decided to assign
                 20 of the new radios to the Directorate of Security for the dog handlers.

                 Page 4                                       GAO/NSIADsl-19   Miesau Army Depot

                      The new radios are not yet being used by the dog handlers because the
                      base stations and relay stations must be installed before the radios are
                      effective. The relay stations will eliminate the problems with the dead
                      zones. A contract was awarded on July 2, 1990, for this work, and the
                      system should be functional by the end of November 1990.

                      The sergeant and the other dog handlers believe that Miesau does not
Backup Response       have adequate backup response for dog handlers encountering an
Considered Adequate   intruder. They said that the only option for backup support is to call
by Miesau Officials   other dog handlers from the barracks. They did not consider this an
                      effective option because in prior incidents it took 45 to 60 minutes for
                      them to get their dogs, be issued their assigned weapons, load into vehi-
                      cles, and travel to the site. They also said that an adequate backup
                      response capability has not been available since an augmentation force
                      was eliminated at Miesau in early 1989. The Augmentation Security
                      Force included a lo-person reaction team with automatic weapons,
                      which could respond very quickly.

                      The dog handlers were aware that Miesau officials had made an agree-
                      ment with the German police for backup security but did not believe this
                      was adequate. They said that it takes the German police some time to
                      respond to a request for assistance.

                      Miesau officials believe that the German police can provide adequate
                      response. As an example of the German police response time, these offi-
                      cials cited a December 1989’gate crash incident in which the German
                      police responded within a reasonable period of time considering the fact
                      that the intruder had already been apprehended. This was the only time
                      assistance had been requested from the German police.

                      Miesau officials told us that the dog handlers’ mission is not to engage in
                      a gun battle with an intruder but to report the intrusion and maintain
                      surveillance, if possible. The primary security concern is the removal of
                      weapons or ammunition from the storage site at Miesau. Removing
                      weapons or ammunition from this site cannot be done quickly because
                      (1) forced entry to the bunkers is difficult, (2) the bulk ammunition at
                      Miesau cannot be loaded and moved easily or quickly, (3) the bunkers
                      are not marked as to the type of ammunition stored, and (4) the bunkers
                      have electronic intrusion detection systems to alert security guards of
                      attempted entry,

                      Page 6                                      GAO/NSIAD-91-19   Miesau Army Depot

                          According to the sergeant, the dog handlers were fatigued because they
Dog Handlers Worked       were working lo- to 12-hour shifts for 8 to 10 days before getting a day
Demanding Schedules       off. The sergeant told us that there has been some relief due to a change
                          in work shift scheduling, which was made possible by the increased
                          daylight hours during the summer months. However, the sergeant and
                          other dog handlers were concerned that they could revert to a situation
                          in which work hours for patrolling will increase in winter months, and
                          the number of dog handlers may decrease if departing personnel are not

                          Miesau officials agreed that the dog handlers were working a demanding
                          schedule at the time the sergeant wrote the letter. They attributed the
                          problem to the following three factors:

                      . They were understaffed, with only 35 of the 51 authorized number of
                        dog handlers assigned.
                      l A decision to use two shifts of dog handlers each night required them to
                        work up to 10 consecutive days without a break to provide the minimum
                        coverage in patrolling the perimeter fence each night.
                      l The high demand for dog handlers did not exist at Miesau until early
                        1989 when they were assigned responsibility for patrolling the perim-
                        eter fence after the augmentation force was eliminated at the conven-
                        tional storage site in Miesau.

                          Miesau officials are considering some steps to resolve these problems,
                          but a final solution has not been achieved.

                          Miesau and the 21st TAACOM have requested additional dog handlers, but
                          there is a worldwide shortage of these personnel, according to IJSAREUR
                          officials. The overall USAREUR staffing level for this specialty is 79 per-
                          cent. The organizations with higher staffing levels than Miesau have
                          higher priority missions. USAREURofficials expect that additional dog
                          handlers will not be available to raise the staffing levels.

                          Miesau officials revised the work schedule for dog handlers to reduce
                          the number of consecutive days they were on duty. Dog handlers at
                          Miesau are divided into two squads. At the time of the sergeant’s letter,
                          each squad was assigned a shift from 5 p.m. to 12 midnight or 12 mid-
                          night to 7 a.m. In addition to the patrol hours, the dog handlers had to
                          care for their dogs and perform other duties each day. Because of the
                          shortage of dog handlers and the minimum requirements on the number
                          of personnel assigned to patrol the fence, the dog handlers were working
                          as many as 10 consecutive days before getting a day off. Miesau officials

                          Page 6                                      GAO/NSIAb91-19   Miesau Army Depot

                                changed the work schedule to provide the dog handlers with additional
                                days off. They chose to have one 12-hour shift each night. The dog han-
                                dlers patrol with dogs for 8 hours of the shift and patrol in vehicles
                                during the remaining hours. By assigning one squad the responsibility
                                for total coverage for 4 days and the second squad for the next 4 days,
                                the dog handlers were able to work four 12-hour shifts and then have
                                3 days off and 1 day of training before starting a new cycle. Miesau said
                                that this approach has worked well during the spring and summer, but
                                they may have to change it with the longer winter hours of darkness.

                                The demands on dog handlers’ time increased with the elimination of the
                                augmentation force in March 1989. The force consisted of 122 personnel
                                who were assigned to Miesau from other commands on a rotating basis
                                every 2 weeks. In addition to providing a backup response team, the
                                augmentation force supplied personnel to patrol the perimeter fence at
                                Miesau. The dog handlers were used as a response team and to patrol
                                the storage areas on a part-time basis. We were told that typically they
                                would train for 4 hours and patrol the storage area for 4 hours each
                                workday. Because they were not needed to meet the minimum coverage
                                of the fence, supervisors had much more flexibility in scheduling the
                                dog handlers’ work hours, training, and days off. When USAREURelimi-
                                nated the augmentation force, Miesau officials decided to use the dog
                                handlers to patrol the fence and German civilian guards to patrol the
                                storage areas. They established minimum levels for patrol coverage on
                                the fence and a new demand for dog handlers’ time.

                                The Miesau commander told us that he is considering options to mini-
                                mize the dog handlers’ work schedule problems. The commander’s pre-
                                ferred option is to consolidate the most sensitive items into one storage
                                area and have the dog handlers patrol this area rather than the fence.
                                The primary factor in considering this option is the cost of relocating the
                                stored items. These costs were being estimated at the time of our review
                                and no final decisions had been made.

                      The sergeant cited two incidents in which he believed the security at
Security at Miesau    Miesau had been jeopardized. The following sections describe these
Allegedly Jeopardized incidents.

Gate Crash In’cident            According to an incident report, in December 1989, an intruder drove a
                                car through the crash beam at the main gate, raced across the depot, and
                                crashed through a beam into the ammunition storage area. Military

                                Page 7                                      GAO/NSIAD91-19   Miesau Army Depot

                       police pursued the vehicle through the depot and apprehended the
                       intruder immediately after the vehicle stopped. The sergeant told us
                       that he was concerned because of the time it took the German police to

                       Miesau officials said that the incident proved that the security system
                       works effectively. They said that the individual was apprehended and
                       that the German police responded when needed and within a reasonable
                       amount of time, considering that the intruder had already been

Storm DamageIncident   On February 3, 1990, a storm uprooted hundreds of trees in the storage
                       area and caused extensive damage to the fences. The sergeant said that
                       3 weeks passed and no improvements were made on the condition of the
                       fence. He alleged that there were numerous places where someone could
                       enter the storage area within a few seconds. During a second storm that
                       month, the sergeant said that the dog handlers had been unnecessarily
                       placed in danger because they were required to continue patrolling the
                       fence while other personnel were kept from the area because of the
                       danger of falling trees.

                       Miesau officials agreed that the February storms had caused severe
                       damage to the fences at Miesau and that it was several months before
                       contracts could be awarded and the outer perimeter fence completely
                       repaired. However, the officials said that the fence had been secured by
                       installing concertina wire to the damaged areas and increasing checks of
                       severely damaged areas. At the time of our review, we observed that all
                       the outer perimeter fence for the storage area had been repaired and
                       that the fence between the storage area and the administrative area was
                       still damaged but was reinforced with concertina wire.

                       The commander of the Directorate of Security at the time of the storms
                       told us that he had removed all the dog handlers from the fence patrol
                       during the first storm, but a few of the people had been trapped in some
                       areas overnight because falling trees had blocked the roads. The official
                       also said that the patrol referred to by the sergeant during the second
                       storm had taken place after the high winds had ceased but some leaning
                       trees were still falling. Other personnel were scheduled to patrol the
                       fence as part of a training alert. Because these personnel would have
                       been standing rather than moving and because their presence on the
                       fence was not required for security, he decided to keep them away from
                       the fence to minimize the number of people subject to hazards.

                       Page 8                                     GAO/NSIAIMl-19   Miesau   Army Depot

                       The conditions at Miesau are not comparable to those of other USAREUR
Conditions at Miesau   conventional ammunition storage locations. USAREUR does not use mili-
Not Comparable to      tary dog handlers at other conventional ammunition storage sites. They
Conditions at Other    are used at Miesau because of the size of the storage area and the large
                       number of assets there. Miesau’s problems-such as its shortage of dog
Storage Sites          handlers or the difficulty in loading weapons while controlling dogs-
                       are unique. Military dog handlers are used at special weapons storage
                       sites, but Miesau’s problems would not occur at these locations because
                       they are given priority in staffing and because the higher security
                       requirements for these sites provide for the use of loaded weapons and
                       body armor by dog handlers. In addition, these sites are much smaller
                       than Miesau; therefore, they do not experience the same problems in
                       communicating over long distances.

                       To compare conditions at Miesau with another conventional ammunition
                       storage site, we visited a V Corps storage site that was (1) one of the
                       largest ammunition storage sites in West Germany and (2) outside the
                       command of the 21st TAACOM, which made many of the policy decisions
                       affecting Miesau. The V Corps storage site (designated “PSP #3J”) did
                       not have any dog handlers as part of the guard force. A German civilian
                       support group provided the guard services. The guards walk the perim-
                       eter fence at night, carry unloaded Ml6 rifles, and are provided the
                       same type of protective vest as the Miesau dog handlers. The V Corps
                       site’s perimeter fence is well lit; Miesau’s is not. In case of an intrusion,
                       backup response is available from the 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Armored
                       Division, which is located in a nearby town. Prior experience had shown
                       that the brigade could respond within the 2-hour criterion established
                       by IJSAIZEIJR.The civilian guard group was staffed at 44 of the 76 author-
                       ized for 2 storage sites because of turnover and a USAREURhiring freeze.
                       Site officials, however, said that they are able to provide the minimum
                       guard coverage required and believe that adequate security is provided
                       at present.

                       Department of Defense officials provided oral comments on a draft of
Agency Comments        this report. We have included their comments where appropriate. They
                       agreed with our findings and stated that the matter would be reviewed
                       further and that appropriate action will be taken, although they did not
                       identify the specific steps they plan to take.

                       Page 9                                        GAO/NSIAD-91-19   Miesau Army Depot

              To obtain a clear understanding of the alleged conditions, we inter-
Scopeand      viewed the sergeant who made the allegations, three dog handlers who
Methodology   had the longest experience at Miesau, and two supervisory dog handlers.
              We also interviewed Miesau command officials and gathered supporting
              documents concerning (1) staffing levels and work scheduling practices
              for security personnel, (2) equipment provided to dog handlers, (3) pro-
              visions for reinforcement in case of an intrusion, and (4) the security
              implications of the gate crashing and the storm damage to the fence.

              At the 21st TAACOM and the Provost Marshal’s office for USAKEUR, we
              identified the policies for the use of loaded weapons by security per-
              sonnel, the equipment issued to dog handlers, and the staffing levels for
              security personnel at other locations. We also obtained a copy of the
              Provost Marshal’s study of the sergeant’s allegations. At each of the
              commands, we obtained officials’ rationale for the current policies and
              discussed any actions taken or planned regarding the alleged conditions.

              To obtain preliminary information on similarities between Miesau and
              other sites in Europe, we developed information on staffing, the use of
              loaded weapons, and equipment provided to security guards at a V
              Corps conventional ammunition storage site. We selected this site
              because it was outside the command of the 21st TAACOM, which estab-
              lished many of the policies affecting Miesau, and it was the largest non-
              2 1st TAACOM site available in West Germany.

              We conducted our review between June 1990 and September 1990 in
              accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

              As agreed with your office, unless you publicly announce its contents
              earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 15 days from
              its issue date. At that time, we will send copies to the Chairman of the
              I-louse Committee on Armed Services and to the Secretaries of Defense
              and the Army. Copies will also be made available to other interested
              parties on request.

              Page 10                                     GAO/NSIAD-91-19   Miesau Army Depot

Please contact me at (202) 276-4141 if you or your staff have any ques-
tions concerning this report. The major contributors to this report are
listed in appendix I.

Sincerely yours,

Richard Davis
Director, Army Issues

Page 11                                   GAO/NSIAD-91-19   Miesau Army Depot
Appendix I

Major Contributors to This Report

                        Henry L. Hinton, Associate Director
National Security and   E. M. Ralderson, Assistant Director
International Affairs
Washington, D.C.

                        Charles F. Smith, Assignment Manager
European Office         James R. Hamilton, Evaluator-in-Charge
                        James R. Jones, Evaluator

(ass4ofb)               Page 12                                  GAO/NSIAD-91-19   Miesau Amy   Depot
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