By Reginald Rogers/ParaglideNovember 20, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - What would you do if the shooting that occurred at Fort Hood happened within the gates of Fort Bragg' Would you know how to react' Do you know how to remain safe'
Post officials have raised safety awareness to address the possibility of this type of incident occurring at Fort Bragg, by focusing on the incident and encouraging residents to become more vigilant.
"Everyone who comes on Fort Bragg has got to remember that, in reality, this is a safe post," explained Tom McCollum, Fort Bragg's public affairs officer. "We have a number of law enforcement agencies that we co-operate with and we exchange information on what are the threats to us. But at the same time, people can't let their guards down."
Lt. Col. Lisa Garcia, the XVIII Airborne Corp's deputy public affairs officer reminded Soldiers and other community members to report any suspicious incident or activity, regardless of how small they may think it is.
"They should always be aware of their surroundings and if they see anything suspicious, report it, either to their chain-of-command or the MPs, regardless of how small it is," said Garcia.
McCollum pointed out that there are several agencies, in addition to the chain-of-command, that these suspicions may be reported to.
"You can start with the chain-of-command or military police," he explained. "But at the same time, the Directorate of Emergency Services has developed a Web site that includes a form called the Suspicious Activity Report. Once you fill out that form, it doesn't just go into a computer database, it gets immediately transferred to a number of agencies responsible for protection on Fort Bragg," he said.
McCollum said it's important to remember the quickest way to get assistance or report a situation is to dial 9-1-1 and ask for the Fort Bragg Center.
"Just tell them what you see," he said.
He explained that since the Fort Hood massacre, there have been several reports from concerned citizens, pointing out what they consider to be incidents or shortcoming that could possibly lead to serious incidents.
"Since the tragedy at Fort Hood took place, we have noticed more people paying attention," McCollum pointed out. "There was an incident at the Soldier Support Center, where some people heard a conversation. They reported a person being in full agreement with suspected Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. It was reported to the chain-of-command and that was the right thing to do because they were afraid that he shared the same viewpoints and may act on them."
Following a chain-of-command investigation conducted that same day, the case was found to be unsubstantiated, but another case which involved an 82nd Airborne Division Soldier, resulted in that Soldier receiving help at Womack Medical Center, McCollum said.
He added that another helpful tool for community members is the Army ACE card, which was geared toward suicide prevention, but also helps in the recognition of someone who may have harmful thoughts toward others.
"If you look at the indicators of suicide prevention and those of what were reported with Hasan, you'll see that they're somewhat similar," he said.
McCollum also cautioned community members not to become complacent and develop a false sense of security.
"A lot of people will consider that Fort Bragg is a gated community. But you also have to consider that it is a gated community with over 150,000 vehicles coming in and out of it on a daily basis," McCollum said.
He pointed out that while most people who pass through the post's gates have good intentions, there's always the possibility of an on-post incident that could disrupt daily operations.
"Individual vigilance is imperative," McCollum said. "At the same time, the population has got to realize that when we work with other law enforcement agencies, it's not just to exchange information. This information comes to us to give us an idea of what threat is geared toward the post. This threat causes us to change our security measures."
He said that is the determining factor in the number of patrols increased and how security checks are made at the post's access control points.
"We don't have one single source for protection, it's layered and it has to be layered," he said. "The main one, the best element (in force protection) is the individual."
McCollum said that Fort Bragg places the safety of its Soldiers, Families and civilian workforce at the forefront.
"Each year, we practice responding to possible attacks on Fort Bragg. This helps us learn what we are doing right, what we need to improve and who we need to coordinate with," he said.
"Fort Bragg agencies do all they can to stop incidents like the Hasan attack from happening," he added. "But, heaven forbid, if it did, our command, security forces and first responders know what to do."