Anti-terrorism month promotes 'remaining vigilant'

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- U.S. Army Anti-Terrorism Awareness Month is ending, but officials want post residents to maintain a high level of readiness year-round.

Michael Whittaker, installation anti-terrorism officer for Fort Rucker, said he's seen an increased level of awareness across the post, but is concerned residents might not remain as alert once August is over.

"People are paying attention now and that's great, but when the next month rolls around and we're not talking about terrorism all the time, people might become complacent," he said. "That's our biggest issue."

At the beginning of the month, Whittaker sent out several informative posters from the Army's iWatch program to various places throughout the installation. He said those posters will remain up even though anti-terrorism month is ending.

"Those posters have a lot of good information on them," he said. "We've gotten a lot of response from those because it tells people what they need to look for and what to do in those situations."

One of the most important things post residents can do if they witness any kind of suspicious activity is to report it, Whittaker said.

"The only dumb call is the one people don't make," he said. "Recently, someone called in about hearing gunfire not far from their home, but it turned out to be a (military police) training exercise. We were still glad they called it in because it was something out of the ordinary for them. I don't mind getting those types of calls at all."

Justin Mitchell, deputy garrison commander, said remaining aware of possible threats is all up to post residents.

"This isn't over with just one event," he said. "It's up to all of us to be vigilant. I think this month has gone very well and a lot of good information has been presented to everyone."

A lot has been done during the month-long program, but there are also things being done people might not know about, according to Mitchell.

"There are people who would like to do harm to American Soldiers and their families, and we need to remain aware of those threats," he said. "There are also a lot of things we're doing that people won't know about or see to make sure they're safe."

Whittaker pointed out that "terrorism" is a broad term not set to one type of activity or group of people.

"The biggest issues we have in this area are domestic terrorists groups and gangs," Whittaker said. "Those are very real threats here and people need to look out for those and possible foreign terrorists."

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