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Gates have two variants; one that faces horizontally (east/west) and one that faces vertically (north/south).
The Allies, Soviets and Epsilon use different model of gates, although their stats are similar to each other, like walls. The Foehn do not use gates but their Stun Grids and Turmoil Grids fulfill the role of a gate to some degree.
Automatic gates are simple defenses which allow a commander's units or his ally's forces to move past a base's defenses while keeping enemies out. Best used at choke points or for vulnerable sections of a base and great for keeping spies from getting into your base too easily, but don't rely on them too much.