By Tim Cherry, Belvoir EagleMay 10, 2013
Fort Belvoir community members can help stop terrorism by participating in the iWatch program.
iWatch is an Army wide anti-terrorism awareness initiative that encourages Army Families to be active in the protection of their homes by reporting suspicious activity to anti-terrorism officers. Belvoir's ATOs want to know if community members witness an unfamiliar person or persons videotaping post facilities, taking photos or demonstrating odd driving maneuvers near a gate. These may be terrorists plotting acts against Fort Belvoir. The installation wants to stop them before they can act on their plans.
"We believe that the worst time to try to stop a terrorist act is seconds before it happens. The best time is in its planning stage, that's where the surveillance activity is taking place ... the suspicious activity is taking place," said Julian Cheefus, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security anti-terrorism officer. "If we can deter, detect or uncover a terrorist plot in its infant stages, then it's easier to defend against."
Community members can visit Belvoir's website at www.belvoir.army.mil and click on the iWatch link on the homepage to report any suspicious activity. Odd behavior can consist of a person videotaping access control points on post, a person quickly turning around before entering through a gate or a person asking invasive questions about an organization or person on post.
"If community members notice something like this, we would like them to use iWatch and let anti-terrorism officers know," Cheefus said. "iWatch is a suspicious activity reporting mechanism which allows the Fort Belvoir garrison community, our partner organizations and residential community to report any activity they deem out of the ordinary."
An anti-terrorism officer will analyze each piece of information community members present and determine if the activity could aid in a terrorist plot. Belvoir's ATOs will present any findings of potential terrorist plots to the installation's Criminal Investigation Division.
Belvoir's ATO's will also communicate with ATOs stationed at Army installations within the National Capital Region to determine if the same person or group is demonstrating similar behavior at other posts. The communication amongst ATOs across the NCR creates a network of information in regards to suspicious behavior, Cheefus said. The iWatch network helps the Army collect data, spot alarming trends in the region and stop terrorist activities before they happen.
"It helps us share notes with other installations and gives us an opportunity to piece together a bigger picture of suspicious activity," Cheefus said.
iWatch's only intended purpose is to serve as a conduit for reporting possible terrorist activities.
People should report all other crime-related issues to Belvoir's police at (703) 806-3104, according to Darrell Wade, DPTMS anti-terrorism officer. A distinguishing factor between terrorist-like behavior and crime-related issues is that terrorist-like behavior isn't necessarily a crime in the planning phase. The activity is just abnormal.
"When in doubt, always call the police," said Wade, who explained that DPTMS and the Belvoir's emergency services will work together to identify criminal activity and terrorist activity. "We'll determine which lanes it needs to go down."
Wade strongly encourages community members to use iWatch if they indeed view odd behavior.
"The iWatch is a tool in which all community members can immediately report activity. It provides instantaneous communication with both law enforcement and anti-terrorism officers," Wade said. "All those sets of eyes enhance the post's security overall … iWatch is the fastest way to report things."
Additional information can also be found on the Army's iWatch webpage at www.myarmyonesource.com/family programsandservices/iwatch program/default.aspx.
To report suspicious behavior, go to iwatcharmy.org/index.html.