By Allen Shaw, Fort Wainwright PAOAugust 17, 2011
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Terrorism has become a word used nearly every day in the news. Americans know all too well after the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon how real it is. The images of that day remain fresh, like other terrorist attacks before that. The recollection of hooded fanatics at the Munich Olympics and the wanton destruction in Oklahoma City has forced the world to become vigilant and guarded.
August is Antiterrorism Awareness Month and is a reminder that although these attacks may seem inescapable, the Army does not believe that is the case. Many of the foiled attempts aren't reported, because a "non-event" does not carry the same emotional impact of the others, but the unsuccessful attempts represent important lessons.
The Army Antiterrorism Branch believes we can build protection from terrorist attacks just as we defend against any enemy. It is called antiterrorism awareness.
"Just like any tactical operations, terrorists have vulnerabilities too," said Alex Mascelli, the Army's antiterrorism chief. "Taking advantage of them is our challenge. We know terrorists live in fear of discovery. Their worst nightmare is arrest. In a sense, the Army community represents the most formidable obstacle to terrorism," Mascelli said.
In an article written by Craig Benedict, Antiterrorism Branch, Office of the Provost Marshal General, he stated that one of the building blocks for preventing future attacks is knowing how to act and what to look for. Besides knowing the things to do to protect ourselves as individuals, we can also find terrorists when they are most vulnerable. There are two principles that provide the most certain protection for the Army community from attacks.
One is to protect ourselves by executing precautions when circumstances dictate. Easy things, like protecting personal information and occasionally changing usual routines like routes to school or work can go a long way.
The second part of the equation is finding terrorists before they strike. Being aware of surroundings and remaining vigilant.
"We know they look before they act. Past history indicates they do very little without checking out the target first," Mascelli said. "We can find them if we know what we are looking for. Suspicions should be taken seriously and reported to a security person. This guarded behavior has already thwarted other attempts."
Benedict stated that by including personal protective measures in our daily routine we defend and by actively looking, we become offensive in preventing attacks on Army communities. "We are Army Strong and we are strongest when we depend on each other," he said.
Col. Ronald M. Johnson, Fort Wainwright garrison commander, added to the sentiment by stating in a proclamation, "I do hereby proclaim August 2011 as Antiterrorism Awareness Month in Fort Wainwright and urge all citizens, government agencies, public and private institutions, and businesses to invest in the power of prevention and work together to make out Army community a safer, stronger and more caring community."