26 July 2016

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AT Awareness Month
This August is the seven year anniversary of the Army Annual Antiterrorism Awareness Month program. The Army’s antiterrorism program protects personnel, information and facilities in all locations and situations against terrorist activities. The purpose of Antiterrorism Awareness Month is to instill Army-wide heightened awareness and vigilance to protect Army communities from acts of terrorism. You may ask, “why is this important to me?” Awareness of terrorist threats and an understanding of unit-level and personal protective measures is paramount to know what to do in case of a terrorist incident. If you know what to do in an incident at work like, for instance, an active shooter situation, you can transfer that awareness, understanding and knowledge to use for your protection if you were to find yourself in a similar situation outside of the installation. The terrorist threats faced today are as complex as they have been at any time in the Nation’s history. These threats are persistent and constantly evolving, as evidenced by the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The focus areas for this year’s Antiterrorism Awareness Month include: recognizing and reporting suspicious activity, participating in antiterrorism training, countering insider threats and becoming familiar with the risks associated with the use of social media. AT awareness will begin with featured articles in the base newspaper and social media. It will also consist of AT awareness stands at the Commissary, PX and Community Activities Center, with additional information tables and briefs conducted by unit AT points of contact at their work locations. The first awareness table will be set up at the “National Night Out” event Aug. 2. The first article will focus on suspicious activity that should be reported as soon as possible, as well as awareness of suspicious activity at large populated events.

Suspicious activity should be reported to the Fort Detrick Police Department at (301) 619-7114 or (301) 319-5502 for Forest Glen. Outside of the installation, suspicious activity should be reported to the law enforcement agency responsible for that area. Suspicious activity that should be reported in and around your work areas include: people filming or taking photographs and concealing what they are doing when noticed; people wearing bulky clothing that could conceal objects that does not conform to the season and proper attire for that season; and unattended packages left near buildings or in highly populated areas.

In addition to keeping an eye out for suspicious activity, people should be aware of their surroundings when visiting crowded areas and events. If you find yourself in large, crowded public areas, you should look for places that provide easy escape and know where emergency exits are or places that provide cover and concealment if escape is not possible. You should always have a plan in mind. When attending events in crowded places with children, friends and other family members, people should designate a meeting place in case they get separated, in addition to identifying easy exit routes and hiding spots in the event of an emergency. You should also designate a person that is responsible to communicate with others by cell phone to account for everyone, and pass on information until you all can meet up safely, away from the event where an incident may have occurred.

The objective is not that we don’t want people not to enjoy themselves, we just want them to be aware of their surroundings and to discuss what-to-do scenarios with their family members and to always be aware of their surroundings.

Suspicious events on military installations can also be reported online through the iWatch system. The web-based system, which can be accessed through Fort Detrick home page or online at: https://iwatcharmy.org, prompts users to enter details about the suspicious event, person or object they saw or heard, including any actions observed, words heard, a description of the people or vehicles involved and location and time of the incident.

Anyone who witnesses something suspicious should report it, even if they feel the information they have is not complete. Even partial reports can help officials investigate. It helps officials put the puzzle together because what one person may have missed another person may have reported. A good rule of thumb is, if it causes you to question what you see, you should report it, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
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