Preventing a terrorist attack is our goal. That noble aspiration cannot be successful without community involvement. Who is better trained for observation and reporting in the community than Army retirees? That could be the difference.
News reports suggest an increased intensity of terrorist attacks around the world. While attackers appear to apply different methods they do have something in common. In retrospect, each attack (like all before them) had indicators that, if identified before the execution, might have prevented those attacks. To be sure, no terrorist attack is spontaneous. Identifying the telltale signs that might indicate a terrorist is a community responsibility.
Recent terrorist attacks (including Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino, and the 12 June terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida) all have one thing in common, they involved the targeting of soft targets. Soft targets include public events and venues with large crowds such as concerts, sporting events, beaches, festivals, and other entertainment and celebrations. The victims of these recent attacks were individuals engaged in normal everyday activities (e.g., nightclub, restaurants, cafes, concert, sporting event, holiday luncheon, and travel). The method of operation, while complex in the Paris and Brussels attacks, employed primarily small arms and simple homemade explosives. Attacks such as the one in Orlando, Florida’s Pulse Nightclub demonstrate the threat is real and always present. As such our first priority is to prevent an attack by emphasizing procedures that identify a prospective attacker before they are able to execute an assault. To be successful in our prevention efforts, the Army needs the help of every community member, including our Retired Soldiers.
August marks the Army’s seventh annual observance of Antiterrorism Awareness Month. This year’s observance is even more important as the wide range of terrorist-related threats mentioned above demonstrates the realities of the risks we face. Terrorist tactics are persistent and constantly evolving. To stay a step ahead of these threats, our collective and individual actions must result in sustained “vigilance” and “awareness” to prevent and respond to terrorist activities.
Throughout the past year Army antiterrorism initiatives have centered on community awareness, physical security, measuring antiterrorism program effectiveness, and efforts to counter the possibility of insider threats. The technological advancements and the prolific use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) over the past several years also presents a new threat paradigm as UAS now present an increased risk and the associated need to protect people, information, and facilities on Army installations and standalone facilities. Its new technologies and adversary tactics such as the UAS that require all of us to remain acutely and actively involved in our antiterrorism and protection efforts.
During Antiterrorism Awareness Month, the Army is focused on sustaining vigilance, reporting of suspicious activity, preparedness to respond to an active shooter, and understanding the indicators of radicalization and violent extremism. On all of these accounts, awareness of the terrorist threat and an understanding of individual protective measures are the hallmarks of our defense.
Our first priority is always to prevent an attack and protect our military, families, Retired Soldiers and our civilian personnel. As such, Army community leaders are continuously assessing our security posture, improving antiterrorism awareness, and extending our community outreach efforts. Every person is a potential “sensor” – if you See Something Suspicious, Say Something (REPORT IT) – to extend the eyes and ears of our military police or law enforcement.
To support community awareness efforts, the Army’s antiterrorism program relies heavily on the resources available to families and Retired Soldiers on the Army One Source (AOS), iWATCH Army website (http://www.myarmyonesource.com/FamilyProgramsandServices/iWatchProgram/Default.aspx). The AOS website is the primary online source of antiterrorism information for Army family members, Retired Soldiers, and Army contractors. Examples of antiterrorism information and resources available on AOS include:
- General information
- Travel alerts and warnings
- Level 1 Antiterrorism Awareness Training
- iWATCH Army training
- Active shooter video (“Run-Hide-Fight”)
- Social media precautions
- Cyber threat awareness
- Operations security
- Information papers and posters
In 1951 General Douglas MacArthur reminded us that “old soldiers never die; they just fade away.” His assertion was one that the Army applies here. Retired Soldiers can still help in many ways. One of which is to remain alert of terrorist indicators.
Please reach out to the resources on AOS to educate yourself and your extended family and friends on the risks and protective measures associated with today’s terrorist threat. By working together, we present a united defense for the strength of our Nation. Army Strong!
Always Ready, Always Alert. Because someone is depending on you.