The installation has just issued a warning over the Mass Notification System. We have changed our Force Protection Condition, or FPCON. You're told to execute appropriate measures. What do you do? Just as important, what does your Family do?

No one can predict when we will have an emergency situation, be it accidental or of a threatening nature, that will require us to elevate the FPCON from Alpha, to Bravo, Charlie or Delta. For that reason, we must all have a plan and know what actions to take, so when something occurs and the command closes the gates to all traffic, we and our Families are ready. Think about it this way -- on Nov. 9, 2009, no one in the Fort Hood military community woke up thinking that Fort Hood would be locked down for eight solid hours.

What is the FPCON system?

It is a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff-approved, five-level program that standardizes the military services' responses to terrorist threats against U.S. personnel and facilities. This program facilitates interservice coordination and support for antiterrorism activities and security measures.

What do you do?

The first person to talk to is your organization's antiterrorism officer. If you don't have one, you can always contact the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Belvoir AT Office at (703) 805-4004 or (703) 805-5209 for information.

In the event of an emergency situation that results in an increase in the FPCON, your best course of action is NOT to come to the installation, unless you are designated as mission-essential personnel or the installation has not completely closed the gates. If you have children on the installation at school or at a child development center, you should call the Family assistance center at (571) 731-7000 or (571) 231-7001. The center is open Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you do have to come to the installation, you can expect that access will take longer than normal and you may have to have your vehicle searched. In this case, cooperation is the best solution. Our security personnel are doing their best to keep us all safe and need your help to do so. Likewise, installation services will be extremely limited, as many organizations will have a role in reacting to the emergency situation.

Keeping your radio tuned to AM 1610 or calling the (703) 805-3030 line are also good ways to get information as situations change. Calling the military police for information is not a great idea, as they are likely swamped with calls and are busy responding to the situation.

During an increased FPCON situation, ensure that you communicate with someone if you have to travel. Let them know where you're going, when you arrive, and when you'll return. Maintain situational awareness at all times and be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

If you see something suspicious, say something immediately by reporting the information to the Directorate of Emergency Services at (703) 806-3105 or open the Fort Belvoir homepage at www.belvoir.army.mil and click on the Operation Eagle Watch link. You can report whatever you saw directly to the DES this way too.

Do not accept any deliveries or packages at your home during an elevated FPCON and be aware of what's going on in your neighborhood. Finally, make sure you have emergency numbers readily available and visit www.ready.gov to create your own plan and build an emergency kit.

How long will an increased FPCON last?

It's impossible to predict that as well, however measures implemented at FPCON Delta, the highest level of security, are not intended to be in place for extended periods, say beyond 24 to 48 hours.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Terrorist attacks across the globe continue to occur and no one knows who, when or where the next tragedy will occur. The threats we face today as a nation and a community are very real and very dangerous. You can help make Fort Belvoir a hard target by reporting suspicious activities immediately, because it takes a community to protect a community.

Page last updated Thu August 25th, 2011 at 10:00