“Avoiding Demonstrations and Protests”
By Karen E. Sims
USAG Antiterrorism Officer
As the weather changes from winter to spring, we can expect to see more people implementing their First Amendment right that allows peaceful demonstrations and the freedom of assembly. Most demonstrations are planned or announced; however, a peaceful protest can easily turn violent.
You may encounter other unannounced unplanned demonstrations, marches or events especially while visiting Washington, D.C; Baltimore; Philadelphia or any other major city. The best guidance is to avoid them.
Always maintain awareness and vigilance.
It is important to immediately report any and all suspicious activity or threatening behavior encountered to the Fort Detrick law enforcement desk, local law enforcement or via iWATCH (read more about the program at http://www.detrick.army.mil/ready/iwatch.cfm).
Some general tips:
*Be aware of your surroundings when you are out and about.
*Always stay vigilant to situational awareness; avoid demonstrations when all possible; be careful what information you discuss that may be sensitive; be extra alert of anyone trying to phish information from you at frequented places on the economy such as restaurants, bars, clubs, etc.
*Report any suspected contact(s) you may feel inappropriate or suspicious to your commander, security office or supervisor, immediately.
*Do not forget to get your travel advisory briefing when visiting another foreign country. Practice good OPSEC at all times and remember, we all are potential targets for information.
Below are easy to follow steps to protect yourself while traveling and engaged in off-post activities:
*Travel in small groups and (never alone) varying movements.
*Always inform someone of your destination and departure/arrival/return times.
*Try to be inconspicuous. Try not to draw attention to yourself.
*Be aware of your surroundings.
*If you come upon a demonstration or altercation, remain calm and disengage from the situation.
Avoid speaking loudly or causing attention to yourself.
*Stay away from high risk places (Department of State consular information sheets for each country provide information on high risk places).
*Know emergency numbers and potential safe areas.
*Carry a cell phone if possible.
*Ensure your vehicle is in good working order and fuel tank full.
*In the event of an incident notify your command as soon as possible.
*Monitor TV and radio if possible for updated information while traveling.
*Consider joining an auto safety club in the event of a mechanical breakdown or vehicle accident.
(Source: Headquarters USAREUR website)
Posted by PAO