Base leadership has asked the Army Corps of Engineers to revise the recently released restricted area proposal.
Public involvement raised concerns over the language and restriction of access to the waters and bayous surrounding Tyndall. The proposal, which was based on a Tyndall security assessment conducted by both Air Force and Joint Staff Vulnerability Assessment teams, was meant to mitigate security concerns.
"The intent of the proposal was to gain jurisdiction for the Tyndall AFB Security Forces in the waters surrounding the base, in order for them to protect and secure the installation." stated Col. Mark O'Laughlin, 325th Fighter Wing vice commander. "We never intended to close off any recreational areas or fishing spots. Unfortunately, the legal verbiage did not match our designed intent.Thanks to the voices of some key local organizations and individuals, the discrepancy was brought to our attention."
Currently, Tyndall Security Forces must request assistance from outside agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard or Florida Fish and Wildlife and wait until they arrive. The administrative process to gain jurisdiction has been in the works for about ten years before being proposed May 9 on www.regulations.gov under COE 2013-3001 to gather public comments.The original proposal was briefed to more than a dozen local agencies and organizations with no noticeable negative reactions before it was signed by the previous wing commander in August of 2012.
These security buffer zones around the installation are not unique to Tyndall. According to Major Anthony McCarty, 325th Security Forces commander, MacDill AFB in Tampa, Eglin AFB in Fort Walton and NSA Panama City all currently enforce similar security zones. In fact, Tyndall's proposal was for a significantly smaller buffer zone.
"Colonel David Graff, the 325th Fighter Wing and Tyndall Installation commander, has suspended any further actions on the proposal until the language is revised and community concerns have been considered," Colonel O 'Laughlin said discussing the way forward. "Keeping the base safe and secure from threats is our job. Utilizing enhanced security areas around the installation will help us accomplish this goal. However, we must and will work with our community partners and local officials to develop and implement a plan that is easily understood and does not unnecessarily restrict access to the marvelous bays and bayous surrounding Tyndall."
Information provided by Tyndall Air Force Base