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Visitor Center changes help base access flow

The Visitor Control Center hours of operation run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week, including holidays. These new hours have been in effect since Aug. 2015 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Michael Peterson)

The Visitor Control Center hours of operation run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week, including holidays. These new hours have been in effect since Aug. 2015 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Michael Peterson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Visitor Control Center has recently restructured their schedule with expanded hours in an effort to streamline efficiency to base personnel and customers. The VCC hours of operation, which went into effect in August, run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week, including holidays.

Acting as the gateway for Vandenberg Air Force Base access, the VCC averages approximately 200 customers and issues about 150 passes daily. This traffic can include individual day passes for sponsored guests, work-related passes for contracting companies, or even large group visits for tours or base events.

In charge of coordinating all of this traffic is the group of 30th Security Forces Squadron members that make up the VCC team. In addition to running the visitor center, team members also rotate between manning and securing the Santa Maria and Lompoc gates, the two busiest gates at Vandenberg. This restructured schedule, in conjunction with the expanded hours of operation, was implemented at the start of August to provide more continuity and flexibility for the VCC and its customers.

"We are in the business of providing the best possible customer service to the base populace, while still being able to draw a hard line and deny entry when necessary," says Tech. Sgt. Daniel Raschke, 30th SFS S3 gate flight section chief. "The security aspect of our mission will always come first, but we take pride in processing others' needs as efficiently and quickly as we can."

In addition to improving the level of customer service, the expanded visitor center hours also help base safety by freeing up the gate guards and allowing them to focus strictly on maintaining security without the extra distraction of issuing passes and supporting customers at the gate.

"Our Airmen have held true to their training," explains Staff Sgt. Benjamin Perry, 30th SFS S3 gate flight NCOIC. "Increasing the hours and maintaining a longer schedule hasn't slowed them down. It has given them a stronger sense of esprit de corps, from contributing to the fight on a daily basis."

The longer schedule that now combines the gate guards and the VCC into one team, also provides better continuity for those seeking base access. For some of the more time-intensive requests, like creating Entry Authorization Lists for a large group or getting base access for a foreign national guest, the process can require days, if not weeks of advance notice and planning. In cases like this, having the same VCC team working throughout the duration of those requests helps the process run efficiently.

"The person they get their pass from one day could be the same one checking them through the gate the next day," says Raschke. "Having that continuity when issuing passes is essential to the success of our mission."

For more information about sponsoring individuals on base or questions about base entry procedures, please contact the Visitor Control Center at 606-7662.