By Randy Hunt, 17th Training Wing Force Protection Officer
/ Published June 20, 2008
GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
In this week's antiterrorism and force protection article, we'll start by addressing travel security. One time when complacency can get us in trouble is when we travel. Here are a few tips that will increase your security the next time you go on temporary duty, leave or make a permanent change of station to an overseas location.
- Avoid using military-style bags such as A-3, B-4 or duffel bags, unless traveling military air.
- Remove all military logos, patches and stickers from your luggage.
- Ensure your luggage tag doesn't show your rank or military address.
- Travel in conservative civilian clothing when using commercial transportation or when traveling military airlift if you are connecting with a flight at a commercial terminal in a high risk area.
- Don't wear distinct military items such as organizational shirts, caps or issued shoes or glasses.
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt if you have a visible U.S.-affiliated tattoo.
- Remember to be aware of your surroundings, be suspicious and don't become the target.
- Do not use rank or duty title when registering in a hotel (if possible).
- If staying in the same hotel for an extended period of time, try to change rooms.
- Try to get a room on the 2nd to 6th floors.
- Ensure room is locked and valuables are secured (e.g., safe, take them with you).
The following are some antiterrorism and force protection tips on recognizing surveillance operations and actions to take if you suspect someone is conducting surveillance operations.
The definition of surveillance is the continuous or periodic act of observing a person, a place, or a thing for the purpose of gathering information. There are three types: stationary, enroute or moving and technical surveillance.
Some indicators of surveillance are illegally or suspiciously parked vehicles (e.g., along the installation perimeter or by high-risk facilities), occupied parked vehicles, personnel in unauthorized areas or personnel taking photographs, sketches or observing specific operations (air traffic, vehicle traffic, construction, etc.).
If you suspect you are under surveillance, take the following steps: conceal your suspicions; do not force a confrontation; stop operations being observed, if possible and if it would not alert suspects (if operations are critical or sensitive, immediately stop actions); call the authorities (remember all details and make a report) and attempt to keep individuals under observation until authorities arrive.
Delivering an explosive or incendiary devise through the mail is an anonymous and relatively risk-free way for a terrorist to hit a target. Fortunately, we can counteract this threat by identifying suspicious packages or envelopes and then safely dealing with them.
What makes a package suspicious?
- An unusual or unknown point of origin
- No return address
- Return address doesn't match postmark
- Incorrect spelling on package label
- An excessive amount of postage
- An abnormal or unusual size
- An uneven balance or shape
- Oily stains on the package
- Wires or strings protruding from the package
- Peculiar odor
Of course, any of these identifiers could just mean a relative, friend, or fellow military member didn't do a good job of packaging, but you should be a little extra cautious.
Usually, after further investigation and examination of the exterior of the package or envelope, there is enough evidence to indicate a package is safe to open. However, if you are still not certain of a package's safety, don't open it.
Notify the security forces desk at 654-4001, or call your local law enforcement if off base. They will advise you on what to do and notify the personnel who need to deal with the situation. If you think something is suspicious, then it is suspicious!
General safety tips that can protect you from both criminals and terrorists.
At all times:
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Report anything you feel is suspicious (report to the local police agency).
If you are out of the area for an extended period of time:
- Get an automatic timer for your lights.
- Contact the security forces desk at 654-4001 and have them conduct courtesy checks of your quarters (a service provided by the 17th Security Forces Squadron for on-base residents only).
- Ask a neighbor to watch your home and park in the driveway from time to time.
- Don't forget to have mail and newspaper deliveries stopped. If it piles up, it's a sure sign you're gone.
If you're out for the evening:
- Turn on inside lights and a radio so it looks like someone's home.
- Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave, even if it's just for a few minutes.
- Ensure outside lights are turned on if you expect to return after dark.
If a stranger comes to the door, beware!
- Criminals sometimes pose as couriers with delivery gifts.
- It's not uncommon for people to try to take advantage of others' generosity by going door-to-door for charitable donations when there's no charity involved. Ask for identification, and find out how the funds will be used. If you aren't satisfied, don't give.
- Instruct family and friends not to provide strangers with information about you or your family.
- Be alert to strangers who are on government property for no apparent reason.
- Report all suspicious persons loitering near your residence or office; attempt to provide a complete description of the person and/or vehicle to security forces.
- Don't open doors to strangers.
- Report all threatening phone calls to security officials.
- Be alert to public works crews and, if overseas, other foreign nationals requesting access to your residence; check their identities through a peep-hole before allowing entry.
- Be alert to peddlers and strangers.
- Write down license numbers of suspicious vehicles; note descriptions of occupants.
- Treat with suspicion any inquiries about the whereabouts or activities of other family members.
- Report all suspicious activity to security forces or local law enforcement.
Here are some things you can do to prepare your family should you be kidnapped or taken hostage.
- Have your family affairs in order, including an up-to-date will, appropriate powers of attorney, and measures taken to ensure family financial security.
- Issues such as continuing the children's education, family relocation, and disposition of property should be discussed with family members.
- Your family should know that talking about your military affiliation to non-Department of Defense people may place you, or them, in great danger.
- They must be convinced the U.S. government will work to obtain your safe release.
- And finally, your family should not be depressed if negotiation efforts appear to be taking a long time. Remember, your chances of survival actually increase with time.
Keep these tips in mind to keep your family's peace of mind.
These tips, and other important information are located in the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Guide 5260, Service Member's Personal Protection Guide: A Self-Help Handbook to Combating Terrorism, which can be found on the Web at http://www.dtic.mil/cjcs_directives/
For more information, contact the 17th Training Wing Force Protection Office at 654-3527.