By Ms. Ashley E Braun (IMCOM)August 2, 2010
BAMBERG, Germany--Soldiers, family members and civilians Army-wide have felt the effects of the acts of terror committed at Fort Hood in November 2009 and those attempted at Fort Dix in 2007.
Though the results might not seem obvious to all community members, Army security groups have responded to these and other terrorist attacks by promoting individual awareness and vigilance across posts worldwide. Whether it is a poster in the commissary, or required training for Soldiers, law enforcement officials are making it evident that the safety of any community is dependent on its members, as they are at the forefront in providing authorities with tips and information.
In August, the Army is rolling out a series of informational flyers, posters and programs to focus on terrorism awareness. A major goal of the month-long theme is to further implement the iWatch program, a safety awareness campaign meant to educate community members in recognizing and reporting suspicious activity.
"This is the first time the United States Army has done it," said Daniel Lalonde, U.S. Army Garrison Bamberg anti-terrorism officer, regarding the August 2010 focus. "The iWatch and the anti-terrorism month go hand in hand."
First implemented this year as a nationwide program, iWatch draws on the coordinated efforts of security organizations on a garrison.
According to Lalonde, it is crucial for U.S. Soldiers, Families and civilians to understand and exercise terrorism-awareness practices, particularly those stationed overseas.
"I think it's more important because the threat over here is significantly higher," he said.
The importance of the individual person in maintaining a secure community has become more obvious in the past years, as military installations in particular have been affected by insider threats.
Maj. Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army psychiatrist stationed at Fort Hood, is accused of opening fire on the installation and killing13 people on Nov. 5, 2009. This and other similar criminal activities in the past years have caused safety and law enforcement personnel to adapt the way they train and combat an assault by an active shooter.
An active shooter, as defined on the Army's Antiterrorism Enterprise Portal, is an armed person who uses deadly force on other persons and continues to do so while having unrestricted access to additional victims.
Prior to the Fort Hood incident, the threat was more of an outside force, Lalonde said. Since then the Army turned its attention to insider threats.
"Members of the community are extremely important to the overall safety and security of the installation," said Maj. Seamus Garrett, USAG Bamberg provost marshal. "In my mind, they are the 'sensors on the battlefield' to borrow a phrase often used to describe the value of the individual in helping to protect the community as a whole. Each individual can help put a piece together to develop a picture and to assist us on law enforcement and force protection matters."
Lalonde feels that those living both on and off post should be aware of changes in their environment or neighborhood.
"The things they should be looking out for are cars that don't belong in the area, people taking photographs of the post...anything out of the ordinary that just doesn't look right," he said.
The garrison will use a variety of venues to encourage community members to learn better safety practices.
"We're distributing Department of the Army-provided posters to the commissary, Post Exchange and other high-visibility areas," Lalonde said. "In my opinion the most important people to reach are the Soldiers, Families and kids."
To ensure that people digest the iWatch material displayed both around post and on the internet, AT Office employees will be working with the tenant units to provide training.
"Each tenant unit has an AT officer assigned to that unit," Lalonde said. "He should be instilled in FRG's, Soldiers and family members."
The AT office will further promote vigilance and awareness through displays of bomb detection equipment to be shown in a high-visibility area.
Since the implementation of iWatch in the spring, Garrett has noticed a slight change in community reports.
"We have seen a small increase in the number of reports coming into the desk from concerned citizens on post," Garrett said. "Whether that is attributable to iWatch or from other command channels is unclear, but we welcome the ability to respond as needed."
As community members see more information regarding what may or may not be a threat, Garrett wants them to err on the side of caution and not rule out an event they're uncertain about.
"It's great that the iWatch program helps train community members on what to look for, but I would never want that to be a limiting factor when calling the desk," he said. "If you think you just saw something but are not one hundred percent, don't wait. Give us a call and we'll respond as quickly as possible to assess what is going on and to take action if needed."
To report suspicious activity, call your MP desk.