WIESBADEN, Germany -- Traveling with family or on official travel? With terror attacks becoming more frequent, U.S. Army Europe Soldiers, Department of Defense civilians, contractors and their family members have a number of resources available to stay vigilant and ready.
"The recent attacks that we have seen in Brussels and Turkey really highlight that we are facing a significant and persistent threat throughout the theater," said Robert Balcerzak, deputy chief for U. S. Army Europe's Antiterrorism Division.
Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, addressed the attacks and recommended actions for DoD personnel.
"I'm saddened by these attacks and my condolences go out to the victims and families. U.S. Army Europe will continue to stand by our Belgian allies ... indeed we must all stand together in the face of these terrorist attacks," Hodges said. "The reality of these attacks highlights the need for us all to be vigilant. I urge everyone to be aware of their local security situation, listen to AFN or local news outlets and ensure you are signed up for AtHoc with your local Garrison so that you may have the latest updates."
Balcerzak similarly urged watchfulness.
"You are the eyes and ears for the United States Army Europe, therefore if you see something that you think is suspicious, there are many different vehicles with which you can use to report," he said. "iReport is a downloadable app that you can get on your smartphone which would make a quick way to report any suspicious activity, or you can go online to any one of the USAREUR webpages to iWatch, it's the same mechanism. It's also important to know that if you see something and it's an emergency, you need to call an emergency number first, reporting suspicious activity is second to that. "
For individuals considering what may be correct responses or actions to take, Balcerzak recommends the importance of training such as the Anti-Terrorism Awareness trainings and Threat Awareness and Reporting Program but it is very dependent on the type of attack.
"It really depends on the situation. In the event of an active shooter, the DoD stresses to run, hide and then fight if necessary," he said. "If you are at the scene of a fire or an explosion you may want to move yourself to an area of safety. Perhaps most important (to remember is) if host nation or U.S. security is responding, be very cooperative with the law enforcement and careful you do not make yourself a suspect."
Researching an area prior to traveling is recommended as well.
"When traveling as an individual or when traveling with family it's important to take some time and do a little research, there are a lot of different tools out there for you, the Department of State has a program called the Safe Traveler Enrollment Program, additionally USAREUR publishes a quarterly message that gives some travel guidance out and that's available as an open source resource on the internet." Balcerzak said. "It gives tips to apply such as doing research on the areas that you plan to visit, knowing where potential safe-havens such as police stations are. There are a lot of resources available to you as you travel."
There are a number of social media references available as well. On Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/StaySafeAntiterrorism is a page dedicated to anti-terrorism safety, also the USAREUR Vigilance page at http://www.eur.army.mil/vigilance/ which provides both personal security and cyber awareness materials. The USAREUR Travel Safe page, http://www.eur.army.mil/travelsafe/ provides travel information and links to even more resources.
About us: U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.
U.S. Army Europe Travel Safe website
U.S. Army Europe Vigilance website