Vigilance remains key to preventing terrorist activity
by Maj. Will Nichols
12th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
09/19/02 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- Air Force members and their
families are vital assets to law enforcement authorities who identify and assess
potential threats in the area to help safeguard people and other resources.
"Vigilance at home is a phrase that's been used time and again since Sept. 11,"
said Special Agent Robert Hicks, special agent-in-charge of Air Force Office of
Special Investigations Detachment 401 here. "Vigilance by military and civilian
Air Force members and their families is the primary component and is critical in
our efforts to protect our people and resources in the war on terrorism."
The Eagle Eyes program was established at the direction of the Air Force chief
of staff after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to improve the timely collection
of information about suspicious activity. The AFOSI and security forces support
it through reporting, analysis and investigations. The program relies on all
members of the Air Force -- military, civilian and family members, on and off
base -- to quickly pass information to the proper law enforcement authorities
who will then distribute it appropriately for assessment, investigation and
action as necessary.
"People here in the United States are potentially at risk for other types of
attacks just as military members are who are deployed around the world," said
Hicks. "Our need to identify and report suspicious activity is more important
than ever, and our operational security actually depends on it. Terrorists and
other criminals can use personal information to plan criminal activity or, worst
case, attacks against American service members and their families."
People know what is normal in their areas at work and home and are the best
source for spotting something that is unusual or suspicious, Hicks said.
"Only (you) know who and what does or doesn't belong in your building,
neighborhood or work center, to include people and packages," he said. "Also, be
alert for unusual requests for information from people who may be posing as
telemarketers over the telephone or Internet. There is a line you don't want a
telemarketer to cross and that is when the conversation moves from an attempt to
sell a product to an attempt to gain personal information about you or your
"Personal information about yourself, your family, your home, daily routines and
whereabouts of other family members is strictly that: personal," said Hicks.
"Treat it that way and don't release it to anyone if you have the slightest
doubt about its potential use."
For example, if a family member received a suspicious telephone call from a
person who represented himself as a telemarketer and began to ask personal
questions and wanted information about floor plans and sizes of housing units on
military installations, that would be very suspicious and warrant investigation
by law enforcement authorities, Hicks said.
Air Force members and their families who notice unusual or suspicious activity
should immediately contact the local security forces squadron, law enforcement
office or 911 in situations where emergency assistance is needed immediately.
The AFOSI categorizes suspicious activity into these broad categories:
-- Elicitation. Attempts to gain information about military operations,
capabilities or people through mail, fax, telephone, the Internet or in person.
-- Surveillance. Someone recording or monitoring activities. This may include
the use of still or video cameras, note taking, drawing diagrams, annotating on
maps, or using binoculars or other vision-enhancing devices.
-- Tests of security. Any attempts to measure reaction times to security
breaches or to penetrate physical security barriers or procedures.
-- Acquiring supplies. Purchasing or stealing explosives, weapons, ammunition,
military uniforms, decals, flight manuals, passes or badges.
-- Suspicious persons out of place. People who do not seem to belong in the
workplace, neighborhood, business or other areas.
-- Dry run. Putting people into position and moving them around without actually
committing the terrorist act. This includes mapping routes and determining the
-- Deploying assets. People and supplies getting into position to commit the act
may be a person's last chance to alert authorities before a terrorist act
occurs. (Courtesy of Air Education and Training Command News Service)
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