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Marines announce measures at Miramar to relieve miles-long traffic backup

U.S. Northern Command (U.S. Northern Command/Released)

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar is asking military personnel to avoid the east gate of the base during commuting hours, after heightened security measures led to a miles-long backup on Interstate 15 Monday morning, a base spokesman told the Union-Tribune.

Military installations nationwide are on alert as tensions soar with Iran in the wake of the U.S. assassination of Gen. Qasem Soleimani Thursday. Iran’s leaders have since threatened to take “revenge” on the U.S. military.

U.S. Northern Command, which coordinates defense efforts across North America, ordered all military installations to increase force protection measures, a spokesman said Monday.

Marine Capt. Matthew Gregory, a spokesman for MCAS Miramar, said his commute — normally 15 minutes — was more than an hour Monday.

The Marines are asking all military personnel working on base to use the north and west gates, instead of the popular east gate.

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Local bases, including Miramar, also announced an end to their “Trusted Traveler” programs, which Gregory said had allowed non-Defense Department visitors to come on base as guests of service members.

Now those people will have to go to the east gate visitor center for a background check. Once they pass, they’ll be issued a 24-hour pass, after which they will need another background check, Gregory said.

Gregory said the decision to end the program complies with the new security measures.

A similar notice was posted Saturday on the Facebook page of Naval Base San Diego.

Traffic headaches around San Diego-area bases were reported throughout the county Monday morning due to the increased security protocols. Installations with significant backups included MCAS Miramar, the San Luis gate at Camp Pendleton and the San Diego-Coronado Bridge heading into Naval Air Station North Island.

Military officials declined to say when and if the increased base security measures will end.

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© 2020 The San Diego Union-Tribune