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Joint Base Andrews commander says breach 'eroded' public trust in security

Joint Base Andrews commander says breach 'eroded' public trust in security
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Public trust in security at Joint Base Andrews, the Maryland military installation that houses Air Force One, was “eroded” after a man gained unauthorized access last week, the base’s commander says.

“The nation’s eyes are on Joint Base Andrews almost every day because of the national security missions we are tasked to execute,” Col. Tyler Schaff, the installation's commander, wrote in a Feb. 9 memo. “We must maintain the trust and confidence of our nation and those we serve. This trust has been eroded because we allowed an individual to penetrate our layered security and ultimately, was able to access America’s Airfield.”

On Feb. 4, a man identified as Joseph Armstrong, 36, made it past the flight line and entered a C-40 aircraft used to transport VIP passengers. He was booked by the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, given a federal summons for trespassing and turned over to local law enforcement in Virginia as he had two outstanding warrants.

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Though Armstrong “did no harm,” the incident “could have been catastrophic to our nation’s leadership and could have had a disastrous ending,” Schaff wrote.

“We must do better, we must learn from this unacceptable incident, and we must ensure an intrusion like this never happens again.”

Schaff noted, however, that he had “complete confidence” in his service members' ability to protect the base and that he would advocate for more time and resources to help them guard the installation.

“I understand the pressure you face each shift, knowing that as Defenders, you must be right 100 percent of the time, and a bad actor only needs to be lucky once,” he wrote.

Schaff said that he was reinforcing service members' authority to not allow access to the installation if visitors don’t have the proper credentials, if they are not properly vetted and if they haven’t been identified or cleared “regardless of who they are or where they work.”

He added that “several technology upgrades have been funded and are awaiting installation” at the base, though he did not go into detail.

The Air Force has also launched an investigation into the incident — which will scrutinize security at all Air Force installations globally — and made changes to some of its security protocols.

“Everybody’s taking this very seriously,” top Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters a day after the breach