As Retired Soldiers, families, and friends begin to travel and enjoy the holiday season, awareness of the various threats and ways to protect oneself are important to sustain vigilance and a safe and enjoyable holiday.
Terrorists and violent extremists regularly engage in online campaigns urging supporters to conduct independent attacks. Their ability to motivate extremist behavior through social media increases the likelihood of attacks using simple methods such as vehicle ramming, edged weapons attacks, small arms, and mail bombs -- with little or no advanced warning.
In light of the March 2018 mail bombing attacks in Austin, Texas, and the fact there are large volumes of packages shipped and received during the holiday season, be aware of the risks associated with suspicious packages. The U.S. Postal Service provides information on what to look for (https://about.usps.com/posters/pos84.pdf).
In addition, the Army Office of the Provost Marshal General develops and disseminates a wide range of antiterrorism awareness information and products. One way to share this information with Retired Soldiers is through Army One Source (AOS) at http://www.myarmyonesource.com/default.aspx. To locate the information on AOS go to the heading labeled “Family Programs and Services,” scroll down to “Go To,” then select “iWATCH Army—See Something, Say Something.”
Highlights of the personal protective measures you should be aware of include:
- Maintain situational awareness of your surroundings
- Know where the nearest police stations and hospitals are located
- Carry emergency phone numbers when traveling outside of your home area
- Do not get into public transportation (such as taxis, Uber, Lyft) without confirming the authenticity of the vehicle/driver
- Do not share your personal information with strangers or on social media
- Do not post your travel plans on social media
- Be cautious when posting pictures on social media (disable geo-locating)
- Exercise caution when attending public venues, especially those heavily frequented by tourists, such as holiday gatherings, shopping centers, and amusement parks
- Trust your instincts, report suspicious activity or behavior to military police or local law enforcement
- Understand how to respond during an active shooter event (Run-Hide-Fight)
- If traveling overseas, register your travel plan with the Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/step/. This free service permits travelers to enter information about their upcoming trip abroad so the traveler can receive updates on travel warnings, travel alerts, and other information for a specific country
- You can also obtain travel advisories and up to date information on overseas security conditions from the State Department by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada; on a regular toll line the number is 1-202-501-4444; or on their website at http://travel.state.gov/)
- Those travelling overseas may want to review the Antiterrorism Level 1 Awareness Training materials available on the Joint Knowledge Online website (http://jko.jten.mil/courses/atl1/launch.html)
Vigilance and situational awareness helps protect our Army communities. The antiterrorism awareness information on AOS provides substantial resources for Retired Soldiers to stay informed, be prepared, and remain vigilant!
Always Ready, Always Alert … because someone is depending on you