Bracing for possible terrorist attacks as a result of the Persian Gulf war, officials heightened security at San Diego and other California military bases Wednesday.
The new security precautions mean that cars will be routinely searched at base gates, which is expected to cause major traffic back-ups. The heightened alert also means that guards will more carefully scrutinize people coming on base, their cars and their belongings.
The new alert is called “Condition Bravo,” a state of preparedness that assumes that a threat of terrorism is more likely.
A low-level alert had been in place since Friday. There are four levels of vigilance, with Condition Alpha being the least serious. Security was pushed up a notch to a Condition Bravo at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Under the newly issued security alert, tours of the aircraft carrier Independence and other ships were officially canceled for an undetermined time.
In the days ahead, bases may start using military guard dogs to patrol the grounds and to sniff out cars in an effort to detect explosives, officials said. Guards may be increased, more lighting may be switched on and barricades may be erected.
“Instead of the guy just glancing at your ID card, he’s going to take it out of your hand, and feel it to make sure it’s real. He’s going to look at both sides to make sure it’s current,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Bob Howard, a Navy spokesman.
“If you had a beard before and you shaved it off, the guard is going to call you on it.”
Howard and other local Navy officials declined to discuss more detailed security precautions at military bases.
At North Island Naval Air Station, a sign outside the main gate still read: “Condition Alfa,” a misspelling that caused one official to joke: “They created a new security level.”
Times staff writer Linda Roach Monroe contributed to this report.