August begins Anti-Terrorism Awareness Month
July 17, 2013
By Alex Dixon
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 17, 2013) -- In 2007, six men were arrested for their plot to infiltrate the installation and attack Soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J.
Maj. Gen. David Quantock, provost marshal general of the Army, said because of the vigilance and awareness arising from the attacks Sept. 11, 2001, that plot was foiled.
The Army's Anti-Terrorism Awareness Month begins Aug. 1, but Quantock said civilians and Soldiers must remain in a constant state of vigilance year-round.
"Terrorists, at the end of the day, are looking for soft targets," Quantock said. "If we create vigilance and have people who take part in this and report it, we're going to take soft targets and make them all hard targets."
Quantock said programs like iWatch Army and eGuardian are ways that terrorism awareness can be raised.
iWatch Army operates like a neighborhood watch, Quantock said. Soldiers report any suspicious activity or behavior to local law enforcement or military police for investigation.
Quantock said eGuardian is a reporting system designed to collect information about terrorist threats and suspicious activity. The system allows that information to be shared across the DOD, the FBI, and other agencies.
The main focus of anti-terrorism is on external threats, Quantock said. But he cited the Boston Marathon as an example of a type of terrorism that is emerging that concerns him the most: hybrid threats.
"[The Boston Marathon attack] was folks who were born somewhere else, external threats, that were taught terrorism techniques outside the United States," Quantock said. "But they basically became part of daily dialogue; they became part of our communities."
Quantock said there are important lessons to be learned from the Boston Marathon attack, and that with a good anti-terrorism awareness program, all types of threats are covered equally well with vigilance.
"The hardest part about anti-terrorism is what you may have prevented and not even known about it," Quantock said. "We have come a long way since 9/11 and the interaction between the FBI, between local, state and federal law enforcement entities is unprecedented. We continue to make great strides in that effort."
Quantock compared law enforcement to the sharp end of a spear, saying that it's up to Soldiers and civilians to report to law enforcement anything out-of-the-norm so they can take action from there.
"They've got to have all those eyes out there, seeing something and saying something," Quantock said. "A lot of people see something, but the courageous step is to do something once you see it."
Some examples of suspicious activity include illegally parked cars and people wearing heavy clothing in warm temperatures, Quantock said. He said the goal is not to create a paranoid society, but one that pays attention to something that looks out of place.
"All you have to do is look around the world and realize we're in a different time, where there is a threat out there that could come from multiple directions," Quantock said. "We've got to have all those 300 million American citizens around here, eyes and ears, paying attention to what's going on."
When Soldiers and civilians see something wrong or out of the ordinary, he said, the next step is to convey that to those who can investigate further, law enforcement.