Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Military News

Sen. Nelson satisfied with base security after MacDill tour

TAMPA — U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who expressed alarm after reports that a homeless woman was able to sneak onto MacDill Air Force Base four times, is now satisfied that the base is well protected from security threats.

Nelson toured the base Friday and spoke with military officials about how they handle such threats.

He told reporters afterward that security at the base is sound and all previous breaches have been handled appropriately.

"I am convinced that they are doing what they can and it is sufficient for our national security interests," Nelson said. "I don't think you'll see any penetration of the base."

The senator's concerns arose after a Tampa Bay Times report this week chronicling the multiple misadventures of Suzanne Jensen, 50, who sneaked into MacDill four times since October 2012. In one case, Jensen told authorities she entered MacDill by turning a garbage can upside down and using it to climb a wall.

"Each time that she was found, she was deemed not to be a threat and then she was turned over to civilian authorities," Nelson said. "This lady was not a real threat."

He also said it appears Jensen did not stay on the base for days at a time. After her arrest, she told authorities she had been staying there for eight days. But security officials doubted her claim, Nelson said.

Jensen was charged last month with possessing a stolen military ID and four counts of trespassing. She has not yet been arrested on the charges and is not represented by a lawyer.

She has a history of trying to enter military installations. In August 2012, she pleaded guilty to a trespass charge after she was accused of illegally entering Fort Myer in Virginia. She was sentenced to time served.

In 2007, she was charged with two federal counts of trespassing in North Carolina in a case that was eventually dismissed.

Court records are unavailable and it is unclear if she was arrested for entering a military installation. But Jensen's address was listed as general delivery at Fort Bragg, a North Carolina Army base.

Had Jensen's jaunts over MacDill's perimeter wall proven to be anything more than cases of simple trespassing, the action taken would have been much more substantial, Nelson said.

After meeting with base leaders, he said his only advice to security officials was to heighten their awareness of all levels of base security and to talk to people on base about security concerns.

To illustrate the effectiveness of the base's multiple layers of security, the senator noted that in the last six to eight weeks, base authorities have responded to three different threats of unauthorized people trying to come onto the base. In each case, the threat was averted.

He declined to discuss specifics but provided one example in which base personnel received information about a man with a gun who was threatening to come to MacDill to kill himself. In that case, the man was caught before he ever got close to the base, Nelson said.

"In all three cases, it was an example of how well the system works," noted base commander Col. Scott DeThomas, who joined Nelson in a news conference.

Speaking of Jensen's case, he said, "This whole thing would have transpired very differently if we found something more than just someone with mental issues."

Comments
The Navy built a ‘fast, agile’ warship for $440M. It’s been stuck in ice since Christmas Eve

The Navy built a ‘fast, agile’ warship for $440M. It’s been stuck in ice since Christmas Eve

The commissioning of the USS Little Rock was held in Buffalo, New York, last month, on a day so cold that people’s breath billowed through the air as they spoke.Partway through the ceremony, snow began falling — sideways — on the thousands of attende...
Published: 01/22/18
Up to 1,000 more US troops could be headed to Afghanistan this spring

Up to 1,000 more US troops could be headed to Afghanistan this spring

The U.S. Army is readying plans that could increase the total force in Afghanistan by as many as 1,000 U.S. troops this spring beyond the 14,000 already in the country, senior military officials said.Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has not signed off on...
Published: 01/21/18
That noise you hear from MacDill is low-flying A-10 Warthogs in training

That noise you hear from MacDill is low-flying A-10 Warthogs in training

TAMPA — If you hear loud noises coming from MacDill Air Force Base over the next few days, don’t be alarmed.It’s the sound of flying hogs.A squadron of A-10C Warthogs, beloved by troops in the field for their ability to swoop low and slow and tear ap...
Published: 01/19/18
Sands of war return a relic: Carrollwood man's dog tag

Sands of war return a relic: Carrollwood man's dog tag

TAMPA - In December 1944, Boris Stern climbed into an abandoned pillbox with his men, seeking refuge from the cold and rain as allied troops assembled on a Normandy beach to crush struggling Nazi Germany once and for all. But some of the men went ba...
Published: 01/19/18
Howard Altman: Tampa Bay Frogman Swim expects to raise more than $600,000

Howard Altman: Tampa Bay Frogman Swim expects to raise more than $600,000

Credit Terry Tomalin, the late, great Tampa Bay Times outdoor writer.Well, partly.In 2010, over a cup of coffee, Tomalin, the outdoors-fitness editor for then- St. Petersburg Times, suggested that a 17-year-old named Sam Farnan accompany him on a swi...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18
Navy files criminal charges in connection with deadly ship collisions, including negligent homicide

Navy files criminal charges in connection with deadly ship collisions, including negligent homicide

Washington PostFive Navy officers involved in ship collisions that killed a combined 17 sailors last year will face a variety of criminal charges, including negligent homicide, the service announced Tuesday night.The individuals include Cmdr. Bryce B...
Published: 01/17/18
Vultures drawn by fish killed during cold snap pose hazard for MacDill flights

Vultures drawn by fish killed during cold snap pose hazard for MacDill flights

TAMPA — The recent cold snap has been more than just an inconvenience for Floridians. It’s been tough on fish and potentially hazardous to flights at MacDill Air Force Base.The National Weather Service says temperatures in early January fell to as lo...
Published: 01/16/18
Hawaii false alarm hints at thin line between mishap and nuclear war

Hawaii false alarm hints at thin line between mishap and nuclear war

Nuclear experts are warning, using some of their most urgent language since President Donald Trump took office, that Hawaii’s false alarm Saturday, in which state agencies alerted locals to a nonexistent missile attack, underscores a growing risk of ...
Published: 01/14/18

Leaked draft of Pentagon’s nuclear review shows desire for new kinds of weapons

A leaked draft of the Pentagon’s forthcoming nuclear weapons review shows that senior defense officials are keen to not only modernize the aging U.S. arsenal, but add new ways to wage nuclear war as Russia, China and other adversaries bolster their o...
Published: 01/13/18
Howard Altman: Gasparilla to honor first female four-star general

Howard Altman: Gasparilla to honor first female four-star general

The military’s first female four-star general will serve as the Community Hero for the 2018 Gasparilla Pirate Fest. The Community Hero is an individual living in the Tampa Bay area who offers courage, strength and self-sacrifice in the service...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18