By Rita Reilly (USAG Stuttgart Antiterrorism Office)November 1, 2010
STUTTGART, Germany -- Not everyone is expected to respond correctly and immediately when faced with a dangerous situation. However, community members who take situational awareness training are better prepared to make quick decisions regarding the security and safety of themselves and their family members.
In the next few months, there will be several American holidays which provide opportunities to travel and sightsee throughout Europe. Traveling can create excitement and a carefree attitude, but it also calls for vigilance.
Recently, the U.S. State Department published a worldwide caution statement regarding the threats to U.S. citizens throughout the world and a travel alert informing U.S. citizens of the potential for terrorist attacks in Europe. The travel alert also pointed out that terrorists may elect to use a variety of weapons and targets in which to carry out an attack, with main venues including public transportation systems and tourist infrastructure, as seen in the past with previous terrorist attacks to rail systems, aviation and maritime services.
At this time, military officials are encouraging all U.S. personnel 14 years old and older and living abroad to take the Antiterrorism Level 1 Training found at https://atlevel1.dtic.mil/at/. The training was recently updated to address the most current threats and is comprised of interactive scenarios with multiple choice answers to various hazardous situations, including an active shooter scenario. This training session can help strengthen community members' knowledge and skills and possibly aid them in making quick decisions in a crisis situation.
One of the most helpful skills to develop is good situational awareness. Since it is difficult to predict when and where a bad situation will occur, the strongest defenses community members have are the ability to be on guard, identify suspicious and unsafe actions, and respond before they impact them or the people around them. Many times, the simplest of actions can aid community members during an emergency, such as knowing where the escape routes are at a restaurant or the hotel where they are staying, or knowing the local emergency telephone numbers.
The mass killings at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009, illustrate how quickly a situation can become dangerous for a large group of unsuspecting people. This has also happened abroad in the not-so-distant past. The coordinated terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, (2007) and the London bombings (2005) resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people. In both events, public transportation was attacked. In Mumbai, several additional sites, including luxury hotels, were attacked, resulting in the death of an American man and his daughter.
These events and their results indicate the need to be trained, vigilant and prepared for the unexpected.