ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. — The world can be a dangerous place, and all you have to do is watch or read the news to know it. There are thousands of people killed each year in terrorism-related attacks, both by individuals and groups, and it is something against which our military services and police must be ever vigilant.
August is Antiterrorism Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to highlight ways in which Soldiers, Civilians, Contractors and the public in general can stay aware of extremism, terrorism, insider threats, and vulnerabilities.
Dennis Donald is a security specialist with the Provost Marshal Office, here at U.S. Army Sustainment Command’s headquarters.
Antiterrorism Awareness Month is meant to “instill Army-wide heightened awareness and vigilance to help prevent terrorist attacks and protect Army critical resources from acts of terrorism,” Donald said.
To increase vigilance, the Army has instituted the “iWATCH Army” program. According to Donald, “iWATCH Army is a terrorist threat version of the neighborhood watch. The passive element of iWATCH Army is individual situational awareness.”
Some behaviors to be aware of include people drawing or measuring important buildings; strangers asking questions about security forces or procedures; questions about sensitive information, such as building blueprints, security plans or VIP travel without a right or need to know; and intruders in, or attempting to get into, secure areas.
Other indicators might be a vehicle parked in a no-parking area in front of an important building, a backpack or briefcase left behind, or chemical smells or fumes present out of the ordinary.
The active component of iWATCH Army involves individuals reporting suspicious behavior or activities to military police or local law enforcement for investigation. If something seems odd or suspicious, personnel should report it to a supervisor or to authorities.
“The Army has the law enforcement and security forces to protect communities and installations, but they cannot do it alone,” Donald said.
Not surprisingly, ASC has a particular interest in combating extremism and thwarting terrorist acts, Donald said.
“ASC is very large and has personnel spread all over the world. If everyone is an active observer and reports suspicious activity or behavior,” he said, “they extend the eyes and ears of law enforcement and security worldwide. Antiterrorism is a critical warfighting capability supporting Army readiness. ASC supports the warfighter, but we need to protect the force and make our home communities safer to accomplish our mission.”
While individual attacks are always important to try and prevent, in the big picture Donald said, “The threat of terrorist attacks 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, he said. The strength of our security is the backbone of our prevention and protection and reflects the strength of our nation.
“The intent of Antiterrorism Awareness Month is to instill Army-wide heightened awareness and vigilance to help prevent terrorist attacks and protect Army critical resources from acts of terrorism,” Donald said.
“It may be an awareness month dedicated to antiterrorism, but most importantly it’s a daily duty and responsibility. Always Ready – Always Alert!”