By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterAugust 12, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Incidents of mass shootings are on the rise in the United States in recent years, and Fort Rucker and the Army want to make sure the Army family is prepared in the event of an attack.
August is Antiterrorism Awareness Month, and the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security is committed to educating the community on what to do in the event people encounter an active shooter and, most importantly, what people can do to prevent such a tragedy from occurring, according to Mike Whittaker, DPTMS antiterrorism officer.
"The (overarching) theme of (this observance) comes back to if you see something, say something," he said. "If something is out of the ordinary, then you need to report it."
That's where iWATCH Army comes in, which is an antiterrorism program that's focuses on encouraging Army-wide community awareness and outreach efforts to address important topics related to protecting communities -- not just from terrorist acts, but all crime, according to Cory Greenawalt, Fort Rucker Training and Doctrine antiterrorism analyst.
"It's a community program to help your neighborhood stay safe from terrorist activities and crime," he said, adding that the program is a platform for people and their fellow Army community members to report behaviors and activities that seem out of the ordinary or make them uncomfortable.
People can access the iWATCH Army website at www.myarmyonesource.com/familyprogramsandservices/iwatchprogram/default.aspx.
Throughout the month, static displays will be set up around post at Bldg. 5700, the post exchange, the commissary and outdoor recreation to provide people education on what they can do to keep an eye out for criminal and terrorist activity, as well as how they might be able to protect themselves in the event of an incident.
Greenawalt said that this month's observance is a good opportunity for units and directorates on post to go through their active shooter standard operating procedures.
"We want them to go through their SOPs and capture any shortfalls, so that they can be documented and sent forward to us to help out in any way," he said. "This month needs to be a catalyst for that type of training because of all of the shootings going on all over the nation."
In 2016 there have been over 275 shootings with over 1,000 people injured and 300 who have been killed, according to Greenawalt, so this is something people need to be prepared for.
In the event of an active shooter, Greenawalt suggests that the first thing people should do is to try and get out of the area as quickly as possible.
"If they hear gunshots, they need to get out as fast as they can," he said. "If they can't get out of the area or find an exit, then they need to know how to barricade themselves by getting into a building or room where the doors can be locked and barricaded in."
Also, in the event that they are confronted by the shooter, as a last resort and only as a last resort, Greenawalt said people may have to confront the shooter because in a life and death situation, it's either going to be them or the shooter.
In order to avoid having to be put in that situation, however, Whittaker suggests that people always be aware of their surroundings.
"You have to know your locations and be aware of your surroundings," he said. "Know where your exits are and look for the security around the area."
Another way Greenawalt suggests that families on post can educate themselves is by taking the Antiterrorism Level-1 training found on My Army One Source.
"All Soldiers take this training, and it's also available to families -- spouses and children over 15 years of age," he said. "They can visit Army One Source and participate in the training, and there are videos and links to other sites, as well, that they can utilize."
But with all of the training that people can receive, Greenawalt and Whittaker both agree that it comes down to people remaining vigilant, which in many cases can be the forefront of the installation's defense.
"Our law enforcement is the reactionary force to reported activities, but they need more eyes and ears out there to help them -- every person is a sensor," said the antiterrorism officer. "Authorities can't be everywhere at once."
Greenawalt also stressed that 911 should only be called for emergency situations, but people can call the non-emergency line at 255-2222 to report any suspicious activities.