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Dan Sommer, chief of the USACE Protective Design Center in Omaha, Neb., teaches a class on security engineering design in Bernkastel-Kues, Germany, July 15.

BERNKASTEL-KUES, Germany - Safely surrounded on three sides by mountains, Bernkastel-Kues is the perfect venue to hold the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers security engineering and electronic security system courses.

In this picturesque village on the south side of Germany's Mosel valley, DoD security and engineering personnel from throughout Europe came together July 13-24 to address force protection issues at the inception of new construction.

"These days, with suicide bombs, vehicle improvised explosive devices, and other types of terrorist attacks on the raise, building a safer, more secure structure is a real consideration in engineering designs," said Dan Sommer, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Protective Design Center in Omaha, Neb., instructor of the security engineering design course

"The police or gate guard can search for vehicle bombs or other explosives, but what happens if something gets through the inspection'" asked Sommer.

The "what ifs" are exactly what these two courses - Security Engineering Design and Electronic Security Systems - are teaching.

"When people think of security, most people think of police and anti-terrorism officers who protect people," said Sommer. "But as engineers, there are things that we can build to help support that activity."

About 100 students attended the courses, receiving a foundation in all aspects of security system technology and design, including basic theory, operation, and application of security components such as intrusion detection sensors, electronic entry control devices, video cameras, and illumination sources.

"With this knowledge I can go down range and see this port and assess it," said Navy, Chief Torpedoman's Mate, Submariner, Kevin Johnson. "I can see what it does and does not have and I can make recommendations back to my command as to what they might want to implement. I hope to take away a better understanding of force protection and a better understanding of what the engineering side of the house requires from us."

The courses are offered to the DoD and other government agencies to protect assets against criminal, terrorist, nuclear and special weapon threats. Anyone in a job that relates to security or engineering that might have to build force protection into the project should attend this course, said Sommer, which is open to government employees or civilian companies with an active government contract.

"We're trying to spread the word to the people who have to do this out in the field, the guys who faces this every day need to understand this," said Sommer. We certainly don't have enough people to participate in every design or every security procedure, so we need to spread this information out so the people in the field are better equipped to understand how to handle this."

The Corps' Protective Design Center has 35 instructors who teach 22 classes and instruct more than 1,000 students each year.

The center developed partly in response to the 1983 Beirut truck bombing incident that killed 299 U.S. and French military servicemen, including 220 U.S. Marines. It is the Army's hub of expertise for engineering services related to force protection and protective design. Along with security engineering and antiterrorism design, it provides security threat and vulnerability assessment as well as designs protecting against chemical, biological, and radiological and conventional weaponry.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16