FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — This month marks the 12th annual observance of Army Antiterrorism Awareness Month. The purpose is to instill Army wide heightened awareness and vigilance and to prevent and protect critical Army resources from acts of terrorism.
The fact that the Army chooses a month to highlight the program shouldn’t be seen as an indicator that we shouldn’t pay attention each and every day. The year-round approach the Fort Leonard Wood team takes is relevant to the success of our program here.
Force protection is a much broader approach to recognizing and acknowledging the wide spectrum of threats to our community, including everything from the weather, criminal activity, disgruntled employees and potential terrorist targeting. As risks and vulnerabilities are identified, mitigation measures are developed. These plans are exercised routinely and monitored for effectiveness and ultimately result in a very comprehensive plan that lays a solid foundation for a safe community and an acceptable level of risk.
During this month, there will be a series of articles highlighting awareness and measures for increasing awareness. A key element to highlight is the importance of community involvement. Beyond the team of dedicated professionals whose jobs and mission are specifically focused on these programs, we have designated individuals across the installation who bring diverse perspectives on these risks and issues – we also rely heavily on each of you. Your personal situational awareness not only improves the safety of you and your family, but can impact the entire community. If something is out of place and doesn’t look right, report it, and let the professionals take it from there.
Third parties usually witness activities or behaviors by homegrown violent extremists that could trigger early intervention by community members or law enforcement. As of 2020, a U.S. government study found that bystanders witnessed or became aware of an HVE’s violent extremist views or activities nearly 87 percent of the time. Encouraging increased reporting by third parties who observe behavior indicative of radicalization or mobilization to violence could improve the success of efforts to curb extremist acts in our country. There are many variables currently impacting the potential risks we face, from politics to economics – and unfortunately, the bad guys are also vigilant and persistent – but together, we can make a difference.
Some examples of behaviors and activities to report include:
- People drawing or measuring important buildings;
- Strangers asking questions about security forces or security procedures;
- A briefcase, suitcase, backpack or package left behind;
- Cars or trucks left in No Parking zones in front of important buildings;
- Intruders found in secure areas;
- A person wearing clothes that are too big and bulky or too hot for the weather;
- Chemical smells or fumes that worry you;
- Questions about sensitive information such as building blueprints, security plans or VIP travel schedules without a right or need to know; and
- Purchasing supplies or equipment that can be used to make bombs or weapons or purchasing uniforms without having the proper credentials.
The bottom line is: if you see something suspicious, say something; report it immediately, even if it just doesn’t look right. Call Fort Leonard Wood’s Directorate of Emergency Services at 573.596.6141, or report it online.