Every sunrise brings another routine day, seemingly uneventful, in the life of a Soldier. From the morning rituals at their duty stations, the day unfolds predictably. Yet, within this ordinary facade lurks an unsettling possibility. In the dim light of a quiet morning, a lone figure sits, lost in thought. Their silhouette barely discernible against the backdrop of the softly lit barracks, they present a picture of deep introspection. The weight of personal struggles, grievances, and perceived injustices bears heavily on their shoulders. Life in the military, with its unique stresses and challenges, can sometimes exacerbate these feelings, creating a mental and emotional burden that is hard to bear alone.
In the shadows of their solitude, this individual wrestles with thoughts that, left unchecked, could spiral into dangerous territory. Feelings of isolation, misunderstandings with colleagues, or unresolved personal issues can transform into a potent mix of emotions. It's a scenario familiar to many but spoken of by few, where the line between personal distress and potential threat to others blurs.
In another reality, this scene might have been the prelude to a tragic event, one involving an insider threat. The term 'insider threat' often conjures images of espionage or betrayal, but it can also mean a member of the organization acting out in a way that could harm themselves or others. This could be due to a variety of reasons, including mental health issues, personal vendettas, or ideological radicalization.
Mental health is a heavy topic and one that is often avoided for the sake of comfort. Unfortunately, there’s nothing comfortable about the insider threats that could be in your midst. Being a leader, which we all are, is about taking care of Soldiers. What better way to take care of them than ensuring they’re good before something bad happens.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is an old saying by our forefather, Benjamin Franklin. It still rings true today, getting to the source of someone’s anguish and helping them through tough times is our responsibility as Soldiers, friends, peers and leaders. It can be a big burden on us to carry that weight but now we have a resource at Fort Liberty to help those we these red flags.
The Prevention, Assistance, and Response (PAR) program, an initiative set forth by the DOD Insider Threat Management and Analysis Center (DITMAC), is taking root in Fort Liberty. DITMAC, which falls under the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA), created the PAR program in response to the 2009 active shooter event at Fort Cavazos, Texas, formerly Fort Hood. As concerns grow of insider threats, DCSA was tasked by the DOD with the mission of implementing PAR programs across multiple Army installations. This crucial undertaking was officially kicked off at Fort Liberty in a meeting that brought together key stakeholders, setting the foundation for a program aimed at preventing workplace violence and other violent behaviors on base.
The meeting included multidisciplinary efforts to help deter, detect and mitigate violent actions and further the Army’s Counter-Insider Threat Program: security managers, CID, law enforcement, Army counterintelligence, ISOC, anti-terrorism officers, insider threat officers, behavioral health, human resources, and various prevention experts from the Army Community Services. Of those leaders was the new DCSA PAR Office Chief for Fort Liberty, Andrea Bandmann, and her team of PAR Coordinators Stephen Wright and John Gray.
"This is an incredibly important event, first and foremost to make sure that we have a tie-in with the community,” said Bandmann. “Without our community, we can't do what we do every day."
The PAR program's core mission is to identify and address early warning signs or pre-risk indicators before they escalate into insider threats. Referrals are essential in this process, where concerned individuals report behaviors that might indicate a potential threat. Once a referral is received the PAR Coordinator engages with various functional experts on the PAR team to conduct assessments and provide recommendations to mitigate. PAR is intended to support Commanders in the development of informed, risk-based decisions earlier in the process of insider risk.
"Our ultimate goal is that nothing happens,” said Bandmann. “We want to provide any person with the prevention and intervention necessary to stop them on the path to violence.”
While the program is still in its infancy, the aim is to ensure that it becomes an integral part of Fort Liberty's security infrastructure. Led by dedicated individuals like Andreas Bandmann, the team is actively engaging stakeholders and fostering a community-wide effort to enhance security. The PAR program reflects a proactive approach to security, with the goal of preventing incidents before they occur, making Fort Liberty a safer and more resilient community.
“This is my home,” said Bandmann. “My husband is active duty and we’ve been here since 2012. Protecting those who protect me, and my freedoms is something that is very important to me.”