HEIDELBERG, Germany ― Maybe the man you were talking to at the bar last night about your unit was just being friendly.
Or, maybe he was trying to get information to plot an attack. Terrorism and crime represent a major threat to U.S. forces overseas, said Army force protection and antiterrorism officials.
The experts said knowing the threat is real and how to recognize and report suspicious behavior is one key way to prevent terrorist attacks on U.S. and host-nation personnel. August was the Army’s Antiterrorism Awareness Month and to help boost awareness the theme for this year’s observance follows the current Army antiterrorism theme of “Understanding The Threat.”
“The theme ‘Understanding The Threat’ focuses on the need for heightened awareness in order to understand the terrorist threat, tactics, techniques and procedures, as well as Army resources and processes to enhance threat knowledge and information sharing,” said Tim Harmon, physical security specialist for the U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Württemberg Directorate of Emergency Services.
According to the 2011 European Police EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report, terrorist recruitment and support networks are active in many EU member states.
Several prominent attacks in Europe over the last few years highlight the ongoing threat:
• On March 11, 2004, a series of bombs ripped apart four commuter trains during rush hour in Madrid, killing 191 people and injuring
• On July 7, 2005, several bombs exploded in London’s public transport system ― three in underground trains and one in a double-decker bus at Tavistock Square.
• In 2010, 249 terrorist attacks occurred in the EU, resulting in seven deaths.
• On March 2, 2011, a gunman opened fire at Frankfurt International Airport, killing two U.S. Airmen.
• On July 22, 2011, a bomb exploded outside Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s office and other government buildings, followed by a shooting on nearby Utøya Island. Seventy-seven people were killed and 153 injured.
They also underscore the importance of vigilance and reporting suspicious activity. Protecting communities against attack is everyone’s responsibility, Harmon said.
“It is our community’s awareness and willingness to make reports to local law enforcement or counterintelligence agencies that can help predict and prevent attacks before they happen,” he said.
To help streamline the reporting process, USAREUR recently unveiled a new iWatch and iSalute online reporting portal designed to provide a centralized location where members of the U.S. forces community can easily report suspicious activity.
The portal guides community members through the process of reporting potential threats to local counterintelligence services or reporting crimes in progress to military police, Harmon said.
The reporting portal can be found at www.eur.army.mil/eureport/default.html.
Service members, civilian employees and family members can also find a link to the portal, as well as many other antiterrorism, force protection, information assurance and operational security awareness and education resources, by visiting the USAREUR vigilance website at www.eur.army.mil/vigilance/.