FORT LEE, Va. – As Antiterrorism Awareness Month continues, the force protection team in the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security offers this reminder … you are part of the engine that powers the nation’s defenses.
That’s right; it all starts with individuals in military and civilian communities being alert to their surroundings – being aware of what looks out of place and reporting any suspicions to law enforcement officials.
The threat of terrorist attack against our homeland and our Army is real. The Army represents the strength of our nation. An attack on our Army, whether successful or not, would demonstrate the terrorists’ ability to strike at the heart of American strength. Our antiterrorism measures represent defense against terrorists. The strength of our security is the backbone of prevention and protection and reflects the strength of this nation as a whole.
With all that in mind, let’s review some of the salient points of AT Awareness Month.
Guard information about yourself and your job. Limit discussion and accessibility of any information (written or verbal) that may provide insights for terrorists targeting U.S. personnel. Always use secure channels when relaying sensitive information. Properly destroy outdated documents/files that contain sensitive information.
Recognize and report unusual/suspicious behavior. Be aware of surroundings. Write down license numbers of suspicious vehicles and note description of occupants. Report anything unusual to the chain of command, local authorities or the FBI.
Be prepared for the unexpected. Plan for the full range of threat possibilities and remember that rehearsal drills are the surest way to check the understanding and effectiveness of established procedures.
Plan for official and unofficial travel. Ensure Level 1 AT Training is current. If an overseas trip is planned, request an area-specific threat briefing by an antiterrorism officer or security manager. Avoid use of rank or military addresses on tickets, travel documents or hotel reservations. When given the option to do so, use a passport instead of a military ID card for identification. For overnight stays, select an inside hotel room (away from the street-side window), preferably on 4th-10th floors. Know the location of the U.S. Embassy and other safe locations where you can find refuge or assistance when traveling overseas. Ensure associates or loved ones know your planned route and anticipated times of arrival. Guard information about yourself and maintain a low profile.
Remember mail bomb precautions. Check mail and packages for unusual odors (shoe polish or almond); oily stains; too much wrapping; bulges, bumps, or odd shapes; protruding wires or strings; unfamiliar or no return address; postmark/return address differences; incorrect spelling and poor or foreign handwriting; unexpected items sent “registered” or marked “personal;” an excessive amount of postage. If one or more of these clues are apparent, immediately clear the area and notify the chain of command, local authorities or the FBI.
Practice daily commuting/travel safeguards. Regularly check vehicles for tampering, especially when parked in an unfamiliar area. Keep doors locked and windows rolled up when parked. Alter routes and avoid choke points. Use different parking places. Know safe locations along the route. Avoid markings that associate a vehicle with government affiliation or military rank. Always remove base stickers when selling or disposing of a POV. Consider wearing civilian clothing when riding on mass transit.
Take home security steps. Talk to family members about residential security and safety procedures. Establish a duress word that would serve as a clue that a family member is in trouble. Use peephole viewers before opening the door. Ensure the area outside the home is sufficiently lit to deter intruders. Be alert to strangers who are on government property for no apparent reason.
Remember personal security. Shred unneeded paperwork that shows name, rank or other personal information. Talk to family members about personal security; discourage sharing such information with others, particularly on the Internet. Be cautious when discussing travel plans or security measures. Avoid nameplates on homes/military quarters. Avoid the use of names and ranks on answering machines. Refuse to meet strangers outside of the work place.
Be aware of telephone security. Always verify the name/purpose of callers. Don’t provide personal or sensitive information over the phone. If the call is hostile or a bomb threat, take notes – time, gender, language, location of planned attacks, and any other details that will help law enforcement with their response. Those on post can dial *57, wait for the confirmation message that traces the caller, and then report the incident to Fort Lee law enforcement as soon as possible at 804-734-7400.
Remember, force protection depends on you. In recent statements to Congress, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security described the threat of terrorist attacks in the U.S. as “greater than any time since 9/11.” A dynamic threat environment demands utmost vigilance and discipline. Education, awareness and planning are the best tools for “beating the bad guys.”
More information about individual protective measures can be found on the Level I AT Awareness Training site – http://jko.jten.mil/courses/atl1/launch.html.