Can you deliver food to a military base if you are an Uber Eats driver, a DoorDash driver, etc? And what about those who order food from Postmates, GrubHub, and other services? Do these customers have to rush down to the front gate to meet their delivery driver or can they get it dropped off at the front door of their on-base home or office?
You might not think this delivery question is an important one, but believe it or not there are major issues that surround on-base food delivery services. Base security is the first one, but what about the Uber driver or Postmates delivery person who has to decide whether or not to risk bad feedback if they run afoul of base access rules they don’t fully understand?
Food Delivery On Military Bases
The first thing to understand whether you are a customer or a delivery driver? There are NO across-the-board, standardized rules for access to a military base or federal installation with one exception (see below). The rules can and do change often based on a wide range of variables including mission requirements, threat levels, and any number of local issues.
You will need to learn the rules of access for each individual base you need to deliver or have items delivered to. And don’t assume all the differences have to do with differences in the branch of service–two Air Force bases in the same area may have radically different access rules.
What is the one set-in-stone rule for accessing a military base? If you don’t have a military ID, you will need special permission to enter the base on foot or by car unless you are a federal employee or otherwise are granted official access.
Delivery drivers and customers have multiple options for dealing with the delivery situation. The simplest option is simply for the customer to arrange to meet the driver outside the front gate of the base, collect the order and pay without the driver ever having to pass the gate.
Some bases that don’t permit access to delivery drivers may actually codify this practice by having a designated place to park to drop off deliveries or people. Others may require a bit more planning.
Drivers and customers who anticipate regular deliveries to a military base should contact the Pass and ID office, visitor center, or main gate to request information about base access for deliveries. In many cases you may find that the delivery option requires the driver to avail themselves of visitor parking at the designated gate or the main gate.
Many DoorDash drivers and others complain about the difficulty in accessing the base to make timely deliveries; it pays to know in advance of a delivery what is required whether that’s “meet me at the main gate” or another option.
Security Forces Guard The Front Gate
Some military bases–a small number comparatively speaking–don’t have any gate guards. Certain facilities may be accessible by Common Access Card or other entry control methods. In these cases only those who have the swipe cards or other means of access can physically enter the area.
But for most situations, you can expect to drive to a front gate of a military base and be met with an armed Security Forces member who is charged with making sure only authorized personnel enter the base.
For Uber Eats drivers, DoorDash or GrubHub delivery vehicles, the guards at the front gate are people you want to get to know since they will decide (in part) whether you get to enter the base or not. Security Forces are your friends, not your adversaries. And these guards have specific procedures they are required to follow to control entry.
If you are denied entry it’s not because of a decision the guards make individually, but rather what their regulations require them to do. You won’t be able to bend the rules; any gate guard who offers to help you bend the rules (rather than meeting the requirements for entry) will likely not be working the front gate very long.
How To Gain Access To A Military Base To Deliver Food, Groceries, Etc.
With the understanding that such policies vary from base to base, here are some general guidelines for delivering food on a military base.
The first thing you’ll need to do is to call the base’s Visitor Center, Welcome Center, or even the base operator (ask to be connected to the office responsible for approving commercial vehicle access to the base such as Pass and ID, Security Forces office, etc.) and ask what the procedures for commercial vehicle access to the base is currently.
Some bases will permit a delivery driver to access family housing area on base but not “working areas” such as the flightline, maintenance depots, etc. Others may have a designated delivery procedure worked out for drivers in advance. You’ll want to know what the rules for access are and under what circumstances.
Here’s an excerpt from the regulations at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia:
“All commercial vehicles and their contents will be inspected each time they enter the installation. Commercial vehicles include, but are not limited to: taxis, limousines, delivery cars/vans (such as pizza delivery or courier services)..”
These guidelines include a requirement to classify large and small commercial vehicles; depending on your classification you may only be permitted to access the base via certain gates and at certain hours.
Remember, not all bases permit such access by commercial vehicles; controlled access areas such as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) may not permit any outsider access whatsoever. Some bases have high security procedures for reasons not apparent to civilians; you simply may not be allowed to enter some bases if you don’t have military ID, orders, or some other form of authorization to be there from the government.
DoorDash, GrubHub, Postmates Customers
This section applies to customers of any delivery service, and is not exclusive to the companies mentioned so far; when ordering from any of these it is crucial to remember that the customer service experience you get with a delivery to a military base will NOT be identical to those where there are no access issues.
Military customers should be mindful about tipping well, about providing APPROPRIATE feedback for the delivery drivers, etc. Complaining that your order took longer because you had to go to the front gate to collect the delivery is a lousy thing to do to your driver who is at the mercy of base regulations and forced to take longer with your order as a result.
Drivers complain frequently about the treatment they get at the front gate–sometimes out of ignorance of the procedures and how long it can take to make it to the front gate at peak entry and exit times.
But they also complain about a lack of understanding from their military customers when there are delays or other issues with delivery. On-base customers should remember that they have it easy when it comes to accessing the base because they are trusted and have ID cards.
Delivery drivers are viewed as third-party outsiders by your front gate security forces guards and must be dealt with accordingly. Cut your driver some slack and give tips and feedback accordingly.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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