FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- The intent of the antiterrorism program at Fort Sam Houston is to reduce the likelihood of attack and to lessen the effects if one should occur.

By making a thorough assessment of possible vulnerabilities and getting feedback on what those are, the post can better protect itself in the future.

One such assessment took place April 22 to 29, as the Joint Staff Integrated Vulnerability Assessment team came in to conduct a vulnerability assessment throughout Fort Sam Houston.

JSIVA is a branch of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which is a Department of Defense agency located at Fort Belvoir, Va., designed to protect the United States from weapons of mass destruction. The DOD requires all installations to undergo assessments by an outside team like JSIVA every three years.

This installation must conduct a local assessment at least annually until the next higher headquarters assessment.

"JSIVA is here to help," said Navy Capt. Brian Frazier, JSIVA team chief. "We want to make sure Fort Sam Houston fully protects itself from possible attacks."

This assessment is a tool that considers the current threat and the capabilities of both transnational and local terrorist organizations, both in terms of mobility and the types of weapons they have historically employed. The JSIVA team then informs the installation commander of the potential threats to the installation, as well as its assets and vulnerabilities.

The team consists of eight members including the team chief, a terrorist operations specialist to help with risk management and intelligence support, and two security operations specialists to collect information through interviews and analyze potential terrorist threats, Frazier said.

The group also consists of a structural engineer to go over the designs of the facilities and how they would be affected by an attack through blast modeling, and an infrastructure engineer to work with utilities.

An information operations specialist whose emphasis is on communication infrastructure is also part of the team and evaluates network security and contingency planning.

There are also emergency management specialists who focus on the installation's ability to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high yield weapon attacks.

"Everyone must stay vigilant," said Toya Johnson, chief of information services. "The JSIVA team's visit was an eye-opening experience. We want to emphasize to everyone that they need to do their part within their own workplace, by not leaving parcels unattended or in an unsecure area.

"When receiving a package or letter, there are a few characteristics to look for to help determine if it is a suspicious package or not," Johnson said. "Look for excessive postage, handwritten or poorly typed addresses, oily stains, discoloration or odor and protruding wires or aluminum foil, just to name a few."

Anyone who comes across a suspicious package should not move or handle it, but call the security forces, Johnson added.

The Emergency Management function was also assessed.

"The team looked at the installation functions of notification, response and recovery, covering 31 objectives ranging across 14 Fort Sam Houston organizations," said Frank Gautier, 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron emergency manager. "Suggestions for improvement were provided and overall, Fort Sam Houston operations were assessed as successful."

Through continuing support and economy of effort, we can greatly improve our safety and security. It takes a joint effort to sustain our mission and encourages each individual to continue to find ways to enhance our force vigilance and aid in mitigating the findings that the JSIVA team identified during their nine-day assessment.

The JSIVA team makes these assessments every three years; the next one may cover all three parts of Joint base San Antonio, to include Lackland and Randolph Air Force Bases.