Officials urge awareness, education for antiterrorism
Simulated victims move to be medically evacuated from Yano Hall by Flat Iron after a shooting scenario during the Fort Rucker All Hazards Exercise March 13. Fort Rucker officials urge people on the installation to remain vigilant and know the proper plans and procedures in case of an emergency.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 2, 2013) -- When it comes to antiterrorism and keeping the installation safe, Fort Rucker officials want to make sure that people on post remain vigilant, and one way to do that is by making sure they know the Army's strategic plan.

Throughout the year, the Department of the Army's antiterrorism office issues a different theme each quarter to combat threats against the installation, and this quarter's theme is The Strategic Plan, and in order for the installation and community to remain safe, people must understand what the processes are, according to Tom Solem, Fort Rucker Training and Doctrine Command antiterrorism officer.

"Terrorism remains at the forefront of national security, and in the last five years there has been a steady increase of terrorist attacks within the U.S. homeland targeting U.S. military and civilians," he said. "In this era of persistent conflict, terrorist groups will continue seeking innovative ways to conduct attacks, and it's difficult to predict with certainty the actual threat at any given time."

These threats can range from simple one-man attacks, to cyber terrorism and even smaller acts of harassment, such as bomb threats, that waste financial resources and stress emergency responders, according to the antiterrorism officer.

"The Army executes an antiterrorism program to prevent terrorist attacks against the Army community in order to protect personnel and ensure continuance of essential military missions," said Solem. "That is the Army's antiterrorism mission."

For that reason, officials maintain that people on the installation must be educated on the Army and installation protection programs for dealing with potential threats, and the first way to deal with these threats is to bring awareness to the issues.

The first way to combat the threat is by making sure that all information is disseminated through the different levels of the installation, both military and civilian.

"The program is [in place] but it's developed in a bubble," said Mike Whittaker, installation antiterrorism officer. "Like any other program, it's worthless if it doesn't get down to the lowest levels."

The Army's protection plans and programs accessible to people on the installation on the Army Knowledge Online website through the antiterrorism portal, and that's where people need to start, said Solem.

From there the plan needs to be implemented and tailored for their specific organization for any and all types of threats that range from terrorist attacks to weather disasters, said Solem, adding that the main focus of the plan is on the training and education aspects.

"We need people to know that there are programs and policies in place to combat all types of situations, and the education needs to get out. Not just to Soldiers, but to the communities as well, whether it's military or civilian," he said. "The strategic plan encompasses training, and the training doesn't have to be a formal one-hour block of instruction, but there needs to be some sort of education and training within the units and organizations.

"It's no different than taking Soldiers to the range and having them shoot a weapon," he continued. "It's muscle memory and repetition, and eventually you don't have to tell them what they have to do, they just know how to do it."

Solem suggests that units and organizations practice different plans monthly, and wants to remind people that's the reason the installation has Tactical Tuesday, adding that they don't have to wait for those Tuesdays to practice their plans.

"It's very important for people to remain vigilant because bad guys are prodding and probing our defenses daily," said Solem. "They are testing the security at gates all the time and there are people that are sympathetic to our enemies, so people need to be aware."

One of the main ways that the installation hopes to keep people aware is by making sure that these type of trainings stay fresh on their minds.

"The purpose of these themes and the reason they change every quarter is for awareness and education," he said. "It's like a mechanic working on a car. One day you talk about tire inflation and another you talk about oil levels."

Page last updated Thu May 2nd, 2013 at 13:17