Force Protection is everyone's business
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

HOHENFELS, Germany -- In today's world with wars, rebellions and conflicts across the globe, force protection has taken on even greater significance.

"Force protection is not just for the Soldier and the mission anymore, but also for the civilians and family members in the Army community," said Keith Brewer, Hohenfels Anti-Terrorism and Force Protection manager.

The iWatch Army program depends on community members to remain vigilant and report behaviors and activities that appear unusual or out of the ordinary.

The concept behind iWatch is simple.

"If you see something, say something," Brewer said. "You're our eyes and ears. We want you to help us so we can all have a safe community."

The iWatch program focuses on behaviors and activities, not individuals. If an activity or behavior doesn't look, sound, or smell right, Brewer encourages community members to report it.

"We want people to know they're not going to get in trouble for saying something," Brewer said.

To help get his message out, Brewer spent several days recently talking to individuals around the installation about force protection.

Brewer said he didn't identify himself at first, but began with a friendly dialog before moving on to seemingly innocuous questions about force protection.

"I wanted to see if they were going to challenge me back, which some of them did," he explained.

Brewer's real message centered around sensitizing community members to the types of activities that should be reported and how to increase their day to day safety through simple awareness.

"For one thing, we're trying to teach people to be a little less conspicuous when they go out," he said. "If you have a T-shirt from 'Dan's Pulled Pork' in Virginia or wherever, then you're giving an indicator that hey, I'm American, and you may be making yourself a target."

Brewer also suggests that people vary their routes when driving to work or performing errands around their community.

"We want you to go out and enjoy yourself and have a great time in Europe, but understand there still is a threat out there and take some precautions," he added.

"It's good to get this message out, because it's when you get comfortable and think 'oh, nothing's going to happen' that things usually do happen," said Spc. Eboni Rogers, 527th Military Police Company.

Brewer said his main goal was to educate people. He handed out flyers and brochures detailing types of situations that might merit a report, who to call and what to say.

Suspicious activities could include people drawing or measuring important buildings, strangers asking questions about security forces or procedures, chemical smells, or an unattended briefcase, package or backpack.

Brewer's efforts seem to be making a difference.

"He made me think of some things I hadn't thought of before," said Nan Barker, Hohenfels Library manager.

"Some people may hesitate on whether they should say something or not, but you can't go wrong if you report something," said Rogers. "It's better safe than sorry."

In Hohenfels, to report suspicious activity call 466-2812.

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