FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Next month marks the 13th observance of Army Antiterrorism Awareness Month, when Army leaders work to instill heightened awareness and vigilance across the force to protect Army critical resources from acts of terrorism.

The fact that the Army chooses a month to highlight the program, though, shouldn’t be seen as an indicator that individuals shouldn’t pay attention each day.

There is a wide spectrum of threats to the Fort Leonard Wood community, including everything from weather and criminal activity to disgruntled employees and potential terrorist targeting. As risks and vulnerabilities are identified, mitigation measures are developed and emplaced. 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.

Army Regulation 525-13 defines terrorism as the calculated use of violence, or the threat of violence, designed to strike fear in governments or society. Terrorism is usually related to politics, religion or ideology, and can be prevented if someone reports suspicious activities prior to the events.

Terrorism is sometimes carried out by foreign nationals, but homegrown violent extremists can also be to blame. Third parties usually witness activities or behaviors by HVEs 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 and intercession by third parties who observe behavior indicative of radicalization or mobilization to violence could improve the success of efforts to curb extremist acts in the US.

There are many variables currently impacting the potential risks we face, everything from politics to economics and, unfortunately, the bad guys are also vigilant and persistent. Together, however, everyone can make a difference, and Fort Leonard Wood has demonstrated and documented many examples of how someone taking the extra step to report something may have averted an incident of greater magnitude.

During the month of August, there will be a series of articles highlighting key points for awareness and measures for increasing awareness. A key element worth highlighting is the importance of community involvement. If something is out of place or doesn’t look right, report it, and let the professionals take it from there.

Activities to report include:

  • people drawing or measuring important buildings;
  • strangers asking questions about security forces or 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 and/or too hot for the weather;
  • chemical smells or fumes that worry you;
  • questions about sensitive information, such as building blueprints, security plans or senior leader 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.
How to make a report

Modeled after the Los Angeles Police Department’s iWATCH program, iWATCH Army encourages and empowers the Army community to identify and report suspicious behavior potentially associated with terrorist activity. For more information on the program — or to make a report — call 573.596.6141, or visit the Fort Leonard Wood iWATCH website.