VICENZA, Italy -- With summer wrapping up, many families will set off on a final summer vacation. Whether your family is vacationing now, or any time of the year, please be vigilant.

Increased travel and mass transit coupled with large gatherings of personnel present attractive targets of opportunity for those who wish to do harm.

Make sure to watch or read the news, check out the State Department's website for the countries you are traveling to and contact your unit antiterrorism officer for information about travel location(s). The U.S. Army Africa commanding general and U.S. Army Garrison Italy garrison commander encourage all personnel to monitor local media and factor information into their personal travel plans and activities.

With the current threat environment in Europe, it is highly advisable to have a personal communications and meet-up plan in advance. Be sure to discuss this plan with your family. If something happens and your family gets separated, everyone knows where to meet up and you still may be able to communicate with one another.

Communications during a crisis or incident may become difficult, since telecommunications systems in an affected area can get overwhelmed and prevent or delay phone calls. Message delivery through apps and text messaging uses a different route than cell/landline calls and may not be affected. It is advisable, in addition to the normal text messaging system inherent in whatever phones your family carries, to have the entire family download a common messaging app so you may still be able to communicate if something happens. If you cannot communicate via messaging because the system is bogged down, having those pre-designated meet-up points will get your family back together.

Although there is no known targeting of Department of Defense personnel or assets, "no known threat" does not imply that there is "no threat." In response to the current threat environment, all personnel must remain aware, alert and attentive to their surroundings. Remember to review basic individual protection measures and maintain situational awareness. Some individual protection measures to observe are as follows:

- Keep a low profile; make an effort to blend into the local environment.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
- Avoid planned gatherings or demonstrations.
- Stay away from high-risk areas.
- Carry a cell phone.
- Know emergency numbers.

Protecting our community and families is our top priority, and education and awareness are the two most important elements to keep everyone safe. It may seem difficult, if not impossible, to prevent an attack, but knowing what to do if something occurs will improve your chances of staying safe, keeping in touch and quickly reuniting with your family. It is important to maintain situational awareness.

For more information and safety tips, contact the USAG Italy Antiterrorism Office at DSN 637-8021/8060.