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Fort Drum will convert gate guard positions to Army civilian

Apr 16, 2010

By Jason B. Cutshaw

FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- While changes in security occur throughout the Army, Fort Drum will ensure those changes do not affect the way it secures the post.

Installation Management Command is in the process of converting 3,000 gate guard positions from contractor to Department of the Army civilian status. Fort Drum falls in the first phase of conversions and will complete the transformation by Sept. 30.

"The change for the security guards has been mandated by Congress," said Joe Margrey, director of emergency services. "We knew this was going to come sooner or later. The whole idea behind the contract security guards was to allow the Army to get their feet under them and to plan for the future.

"So by Sept. 30, we have to have our DA civilian security guards hired and ready to go," he added.

With the current plan in place, Fort Drum officials hope to make the transformation as painless as possible.

"We have a plan in place," Margrey said. "We're going to hire the captain and some of the supervisors on June 20. Then, two weeks later, we will bring on another group, and that will allow us the time to train, to equip them and to transition slowly into a full DA civilian force.

"We hope to be able to hire as many of the current people as possible," he added.

Fort Drum is authorized to hire 81 DA civilians, and even though that will enlarge the civilian workforce, it should not cause the loss of any other DA civilian jobs on post.

"It will affect Fort Drum's budget because now we will be covering the DA civilian (gate guards) in our expenses," Margrey said. "It will, however, save the Army money in the long run."

Margrey also spoke of taking ownership of the new security force and how the personnel process will be centralized within the gates of Fort Drum.

"Before, the contractor did all of the administrative work - the hiring, the firing and the training - but they followed our rules and our oversight," he said. "With DA civilians, we will be doing all of the hiring, the training and equipping them. All of that now falls back on us."

As changeover happens in the coming months, the idea is to make the transfer as transparent as possible and to maintain the same level of outstanding support for the Fort Drum community.

"The uniforms will essentially remain the same," Margrey said. "The badge is going to be different and the patch is going to be different, but everything else will remain pretty much the same.

"I want to make it clear that just because they will be DA civilians as opposed to contractors, we expect the same service, we expect the same professionalism and we expect to follow the same policies and procedures," he added. "And hopefully for everyone involved, it should be a smooth transition."

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