29 September 1998
Terrorist activities and political violence are not new concepts. In fact, they have been around for hundreds of years. With the evolution of television and the expanding role of news media organizations, terrorism has taken on a previously unseen notoriety, lending itself to attacks that continue to increase in intensity.
During the 1970s, seizing embassies and kidnappings were common tactics among terrorists. In the 1980s, hijackings of commercial airliners gave way to bombings. Large scale attacks such as the Federal Building in Oklahoma City and Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia (top photo) has led military officials to reassess their force protection efforts both here and abroad.
Our web site takes a no-nonsense approach by recommending sound practices our service personnel can take to protect themselves.
While these measures are intended to help safeguard military members and their families, they are by no means foolproof and certainly cannot take the place of common sense and sound judgement.
To obtain the terrorist threat summary for each country in our AOR, please look at our classified web site. If you require further information on countering terrorism and protection of our forces, please connect to the following links:
Enjoy the sites!
GENERAL. It is the policy of USCENTCOM to deter terrorism through the use of all reasonable means. While reducing the risk to USCENTCOM personnel from acts of terrorism is a command responsibility, each USCENTCOM member must also exercise proper caution and prudent judgment to reduce his or her vulnerability.
RESPONSIBILITIES. All USCENTCOM units and activities will maintain a current copy of OPLAN 97-01 (Force Protection), and appoint in writing an Antiterrorism Officer and alternate to develop, implement, and supervise the organizational Antiterrorism Program in accordance with the provisions of OPLAN 97-01.
All USCENTCOM units and activities will also implement training programs that incorporate a "quarterly" antiterrorism exercise for all assigned personnel.
All units and individuals assigned individual weapons who are assigned or deployed to the USCENTCOM AOR will battle sight zero (if applicable) and qualify on the weapon prior to assignment to the AOR and semiannually thereafter.
All USCENTCOM components are responsible for identifying their service specific individual, crew-served, and special weapons training requirements (i.e., MP5, shotgun, 9mm pistol, etc.), ensuring quarterly familiarization and qualification prior to deployment.
ANTITERRORISM PLANNING. The threat of terrorism extends throughout the USCENTCOM AOR and constitutes a potential hazard for U.S. personnel and resources regardless of location. Military units, SAOs, and individuals assigned to these organizations all too frequently present a lucrative target due to their symbolic importance, inherent vulnerability, and the type of mission they perform. As a symbol of the U.S. Government in a foreign land, these organizations and their assigned personnel can be inviting targets for terrorists. Since units often deploy and train in the volatile Central Region and SAOs continually provide military assistance to host governments, a thorough awareness and appreciation of possible terrorist activity is essential to effective operations, security, and safety. Thorough mission preparation, proper training and the judicious application of basic, common sense countermeasures can greatly reduce the likelihood of becoming a terrorist victim.
Each USCENTCOM unit (component) and Chief of Mission (non-component) Activity will have an antiterrorism plan. The requirement for non-component activities may be met by using a host agency (i.e., Embassy plan) or standardized antiterrorism plans (for component units) tailored to specific missions and locations.
ANTITERRORISM BRIEFINGS. All personnel deploying and/or being assigned to USCENTCOM overseas activities to include those individuals in TDY/TAD status will be given an antiterrorism briefing prior to departure and within 48 hours after arrival in-country.
The in-country briefing will be administered by the security manager, force protection officer, or other designated person.
Briefings will be supplemented by use of deadly force/rules of engagement (scenario based) training for all individuals required to perform security and law enforcement related duties. This will be accomplished within 72 hours of arrival in the AOR and prior to the performance of such duties. This training will be approved by the servicing Judge Advocate General and the senior Security Police/Military Police officer.
Required briefings will be documented and records retained for review by the JRAC, Inspector General (CCIG), and Provost Marshal (CCPM) personnel.
Personnel traveling on temporary duty (TDY) will be briefed on the local threat and actions available to reduce the possibility of becoming the victim of a terrorist or criminal attack.
All USCENTCOM personnel will obtain a threat and antiterrorism briefing from CCJ2-JCT and the JRAC, respectively, prior to their departure from MacDill AFB.
Other personnel traveling to the AOR will receive an antiterrorism briefing prior to unit departure.
Military unit commanders will coordinate their initial in-country antiterrorism briefings with the respective USDR. The USDR will ensure that all non-component personnel arriving in TDY status are briefed upon arrival (NLT 48 hours after arrival) concerning local threat, individual actions that reduce the possibility of becoming a terrorist or criminal attack victim, any increased threat level or THREATCON, as well as emergency/serious incident reporting procedures. In addition, the USDR will ensure that TDY personnel are included in the appropriate local emergency Warden/NEO notification system. Commanders of component units (as designated in Annex A of OPORD 97-01, Force Protection) will maintain force protection responsibility for their units and will likewise ensure that their personnel are briefed within 48 hours.
Keeping your home safe from thieves can be just as important as protecting it from acts of terrorism. While many burglaries occur as "thefts of opportunity," most terrorist plots use a similar premise.
If you've ever been the victim of a burglary, you can appreciate the insecure feeling that accompanies the fact a stranger has been through your personal belongings. If you have yet to experience such a feeling, every effort should be made to prolong this event as long as possible.
If you live off-base, where you live is important. If it is isolated where you can be the target of crime or terrorism, or perhaps an area that thrives on criminal activity, then you should probably avoid establishing residence there. Other variables to consider include:
Although you believe your home is safe, statistics show many are not. Alarm systems and pets are only deterrents -- alarms can be defeated and pets incapacitated. So how can you protect your valuables and loved ones? First, contact your local law enforcement agency. A trained crime prevention officer can conduct a security survey of your home free of charge. In the meantime, take a second to ask yourself: if I locked myself out of the house, how would I get in? If you know of a way, it's likely the crooks know also.
If you have recently moved into a new home or apartment, consider changing the locks.
Never admit strangers without proper identification into your house. Although they seem harmless, they could be "casing" your home for a break-in later.
Refuse all unordered packages!
Do not give out unnecessary information over the phone. When using computer on-line services, be cautious about giving personal information.
Personally destroy all envelopes and correspondence that reflects your name, rank and/or military affiliation.
Use a wide angle door viewer ("peephole") before opening the door to anyone. Avoid standing in the center of doors. Instead, stand to one side. If the person on the other side has a weapon, they will likely aim for the center of the door. Standing to one side will reduce your chances of being struck.
Know and prominently display key emergency numbers such as law enforcement (sheriff, base police) fire department, hospital, school, close relatives and neighbors.
Develop friendly relationships with neighbors. Be considerate of them by not having rowdy parties or playing loud music. If you don't have a neighborhood watch program in place, consider starting one.
Exterior doors should be metal or solid wood, possessing deadbolt locks with at least a 1" case-hardened steel bolt, extending from the door.
Door hinges that are exposed outside of the house should be pinned or spot-welded to prevent removal of the hinge pin.
Sliding glass doors present a unique hazard since they can be lifted from the track while locked. Use a steel pin that extends diagonally through both door frames or prevent the door from being lifted from their tracks by drilling pilot holes in the door track at 5" to 7" intervals and applying #10 sheet metal screws. Screw them in far enough to allow the door to slide freely, but cannot be lifted from the tracks. Consider placing shatter resistant window film over door glass to prevent entry from the glass from being shattered.
Miami-style (Jalousie) windows should be replaced. All other windows should have a secondary locking device attached to the tracks to prevent them from being opened far enough to allow entry into the house.
Change the security code in your garage door openers! Crooks have been known to purchase replacement openers and drive through neighborhoods pressing them until a garage door opens.
Lock your car when not being used. Store any high-value or theft-attractive items in the trunk or remove them from the vehicle. When getting into the car, take a walk around it first. If there are any wires hanging from the bottom of the vehicle, or if the tailpipe or fuel filler has been disturbed, walk away and call the police. DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING, INVESTIGATE, OR ATTEMPT TO GET INTO THE VEHICLE!
When purchasing a security system, ensure it covers both the perimeter (all doors and windows) and interior (motion and/or glass break sensors). To deviate from this allows an intruder to enter your house and not be detected until after they are in. Even more important, make sure it is monitored through a reputable security service. False alarms do not occur with quality security systems! Train family members to use the system and test it monthly. Have the system repaired immediately if it fails to perform properly. Telephone service is just as important to a security system in an emergency as it is for you to be able to reach 911. Locate the phone line as it enters your home. If it is outside, can the lines be cut? Should this be the case, then consider having the phone company move them inside of the garage or attic.
Lights are a thief's worst enemy. Install as many as needed to provide light all around your house and yard, and use timers or sensors that detect movement or sense darkness. Believe it or not, many energy-efficient lights (quartz halogen or high-pressure sodium) cost just pennies to operate each month.
Avoid solicitation calls by having an unpublished number. Track harassing or unwanted calls with CallerID or call block (available in most areas).
Vary your times and routes when performing routine travel.
If you hire a housekeeper or nanny, check them out first. Check their references and conduct a background inquiry through a reputable private investigator. Once they're hired, insist they follow your rules.
Have a trusted neighbor collect your mail and newspapers when gone for less than a week. For longer stays, stop the newspaper and hold your mail for pick-up at the post office. Place your lights and a radio on a timer. This gives the appearance someone is at home. Have a car parked in the driveway. Whether it's yours or a second car owned by a neighbor, it gives the appearance that someone is home.
Consider establishing a "safe room" to retreat into in the event an intruder breaks into your home. As a minimum, it should be a walk-in closet or bathroom you can lock. It should also have a phone, first aid kit, and fire extinguisher.
Know the local laws regarding firearms and use of force. In home defense, an untrained person with a firearm can be as much a liability as an asset.
Crime prevention is universal -- it applies to you as well as the terrorist. Knowing where you are going and what to expect once you arrive is your best defense against becoming a victim.
Take a terrorist approach and gather all of the information you can about your destination. Watching world news programs such as those featured on CNN International can give valuable insight on issues and activities not normally covered by American news programs. Learn the customs, culture, language, prevailing crime trends and hazards, and local laws. While most of this information can be gathered through intelligence briefs, library references, and travel agents, some of the best data can be obtained from those who have been there recently.
The Internet is also a valuable tool for obtaining up-to-date information. Travelers can check the following links for current updates:
Information for Business Travelers & Citizens Residing Overseas: http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/business/business_travel.html
Travel Warnings & Consular Info: http://travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html
Normal common sense should prevail when traveling abroad, just as it would at home. Remembering three basic rules will pay dividends in the long run:
Be Alert to Your Surroundings
Be Deliberate in Your Actions & Maintain a Low Profile
Be Unpredictable When Traveling
When local customs deviate from ours, respect them. Calling undue attention to yourself may not be in your best interests. Avoid wearing items of clothing that connects you to the United States (i.e., military accessories, sports caps/t-shirts, faddish or flashy apparel). Be polite and avoid confrontations and arguments that may cause unwanted attention to yourself.
Money should be in only those amounts you will need during your stay. Use credit cards for large dollar purchases and purchase local currency as soon as you arrive in country for taxi's, tips, and meals.
At the hotel, arrange for a room between the second and eighth floors. This makes it harder for the crooks and easier for the firemen to get to you in case of an emergency.
Speaking of emergencies: know where the exits, stairwells, and fire extinguishers are located in case they are needed.
When you are in your room, keep the door locked with the deadbolt at all times. Do not depend on the standard key-in-the-knob lock as hotel personnel have pass keys to get in. While you're sleeping or taking a shower is not the best time for unannounced visitors. When you leave your room, keep the TV or radio on, and hand the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the outside knob. This gives the impression the room is occupied.
When answering the door, use the peephole first. Talk through the door when speaking with people you don't know, and avoid standing in the center of the door if at all possible. Call the hotel operator immediately and ask for security or management to respond for those who insist on entering your room without a legitimate reason.
Do not accept packages or items from sources you're unfamiliar with. If your room has a balcony, avoid standing outside for long periods of time. Answer the phone with a simple, "hello", not your name. Protect your valuables by using the room safe or hotel vault. Keep your room key in your possession at all times.
When traveling, use a driver whenever possible. Vary your routes and times. Be aware of changing political conditions and incidents that may alter your activities.
Take care of your personal affairs - just in case. Ensure your will is up-to-date, a power of attorney is in place to handle your financial matters that may arise in your absence, and address any pending family matters before your departure.
While the likelihood of being taken captive is remote, it does happen when we least expect it. The first few moments of a hostage situation is critical, making it important for you to remain calm and do exactly as instructed. Your abductors are just as nervous as you are, and many times an innocent person is wounded or killed just to let everyone else know who is in charge.
Developing a rapport with those holding you captive is important - first impressions are usually lasting ones in these types of scenarios. A good impression may make your experience easier to bear; a bad one may make you dead. Do not say or do anything that may be construed as confrontational. Allow them to call the shots for a while - this eases the burden a bit on everyone and could result in better treatment over the long term.
If you are interrogated, adopt a simple position and stick to it. Be polite, give brief and consistent answers. Speak candidly about matters that have little relevance and put your guard up when the focus shifts to sensitive issues.
Should your captors wish to photograph you, allow them. This will give others an indication of how you're being treated and confirm that you are alive.
Staying active helps keep your mind off of the fact you are being held captive. Exercise daily, read anything you can get your hands on, write if they allow you to, and establish some sort of daily routine. Eating is also important, so take whatever is offered. This maintains your strength and good health.
Discreetly observe your captors, noting speech patterns, physical description, distinguishing marks (scars, tatoos, etc.) and clothing. This may help you identify them later.
If you are fortunate enough to be released early, remember those who are left behind. Do not make derogatory statements to the media that may jeopardize the welfare and safety of those who remain captive.
If an opportunity to escape exists, carefully consider the risks involved and the potential consequences to others left behind as well as to you if you're recaptured.
Should a rescue attempt be made, drop to the floor immediately and stay there. Do exactly as you're instructed by the rescue force. Do not make any sudden moves that may draw reactions from both the hostage takers as well as the rescuers.
Your safest response is to stay alert, cooperative, and cautious. This will continue to keep you alive while your government works for your safe release.
Arrive early at the airport. Most international flights require at least a two-hour check-in prior to takeoff, while most domestic flights ask you to be there at least 60-90 minutes prior to takeoff.
Check in your luggage, receive your boarding passes, and proceed through the security checkpoint to the boarding gate. Do not use the ticket counter or security screening area as a hang-out.
Use the shoppes within the boarding area. They are usually duty-free and safer than those in the main terminal.
Stay alert and familiar with your surroundings. When speaking with strangers, do not convey your government affiliation. Be polite and avoid attracting attention to yourself through loud conversations or arguments.
Keep your money in your front pants pockets. It is much harder and more noticable for a pickpocket to reach into your front pocket. Place credit cards, military ID cards, official passport, government orders, and plane tickets in your carry-on baggage, and keep it with you at all times to prevent others from placing unwanted or illegal items or explosive devices. Thefts of opportunity are common in airports, especially those involving briefcases and laptop computers.
To be safe, pack your own baggage and use commercial-type luggage in lieu of military-style duffle & flight bags. Packing your own luggage gives you the confidence of knowing just what is there, and security officials will not allow your luggage on the aircraft if it was packed by others. Do not pack anything in your luggage that you cannot afford to lose. Lost luggage is common in many overseas airports, which makes locking and properly marking your luggage more important.
DO NOT make comments or jokes about bombs or carrying weapons. Doing so will cause you to miss your flight and may land you in jail.
When selecting a seat, choose one that is in the center of the aircraft and preferably an aisle seat. This gives you more room and allows you to get out quickly in an emergency.
Once in the air, be alert for suspicious activities and immediately report anything to the flight crew.
If the plane is hijacked:
Once you reach your destination, collect your carry-on luggage as soon as possible and proceed to either the immigration or the baggage pick-up area. Stay alert to your surroundings and have the necessary documents in hand and ready to present once you reach the immigration/customs area.
a difficult task in today's society. With the concerns over privacy, a convicted sex offender could be living next door to you! As children get older, their need for independence and desire to spend time with peers becomes greater. This presents an even greater challenge to keep up with their activities.
Let's start with the basics:
Children can be very reliable sources of information regarding the activities and people in the neighborhood. Talk to them periodically about events going on around your home and try to interpret them to see if any of these activities requires your attention.
Pagers and hand-held radios are good sources of keeping track of your children while they play. Consider using them while your children are down the street and out of sight.
Latchkey kids are becoming more common as both mom and dad have jobs out of the home. Making sure they are safe becomes a prime concern when they leave the safety and security offered by their school. Here are some tips to help keep them safe until you arrive home:
When going out, avoid traveling alone. There is safety in numbers. Civilian clothing over military uniforms is strongly encouraged.
Walking along poorly lit streets and narrow alleys is discouraged. Minimize night travel as much as possible, especially around high crime areas.
Avoid discussing personal matters such as upcoming travel plans, your job, or your spouse's with people you do not know, including co-workers and casual acquaintances.
Make certain important papers (wills, power-of-attorney, titles and deeds) are in a safe location that family members can access if needed in an emergency. Make sure any important papers pertainly to personal affairs are up-to-date before leaving on a trip.
When traveling or living overseas, consider how your vehicle will fit into the local environment.
Will an American-made car, truck, or sport-utility vehicle blend into the array of vehicles already in country, or will it be easily recognizable as one-of-a-kind? If the latter is the case, consider leaving it at home.
Any vehicle you bring into the country should be well-maintained and equipped. Parts and qualified technicians to work on your vehicle may be hard-to-find in a pinch, making it important to have a vehicle that is common to the country you are visiting.
Remove any decals or bumper stickers that stand-out or identify you as an American. If you intend to visit an area for a short time and want to rent or lease a vehicle, do so from a reputable company. When receiving the vehicle, look it over thoroughly for damage, and refuse to accept any vehicle that does not have the proper safety equipment (safety belts, working lights, turn signals, and horn). If at all possible, get a vehicle that is equipped with air conditioning. If a driver is available, use them. They are more familiar with the surroundings and in the event of an accident, they may be more prepared to deal with the situation and the local authorities than you.
Each time you leave the vehicle, ensure it is locked and exposed items of value are locked in the trunk or concealed under the seat. It is best to use garages, well-lit parking areas, or other secure facilities when the vehicle is not in use.
Before entering the vehicle, take a walk-around and get familiar with any loose wires, unexplained objects, scratches, and missing parts. If anything looks suspicious, step away from the vehicle and call the Police. DO NOT investigate or attempt to get into the vehicle.
While driving, keep the windows shut, and your doors locked. Many countries have vagrants and street kids that will approach you while the vehicle is stopped and attempt to grab anything of value - including earrings, watches, bracelets, and necklaces! DO NOT roll down your window to speak with them or give them money, and NEVER pick up hitchhikers.
Keep your fuel tank at least 1/2 full at all times. Select well-traveled roads and don't travel into unfamiliar areas or down alleyways. Avoid congested thoroughfares whenever possible.
Become familiar with the locations of police stations, hospitals, embassies, government facilities, and other "safe havens" where you can seek help if needed. If you believe you are being followed, DO NOT go home! Instead, drive to the closest "safe haven" for assistance.
Always have an escape route. Do not allow youself to get "boxed in" at traffic lights. Keep a longer distance between cars in case you have to drive away or make an evasive maneuver in an emergency.
When using commerical transportation, set your mode of travel carefully. Use reputable taxi services or public transportation. Select busy stops and do not allow strangers to choose your transportation or routes for you. If riding in a taxi, look at the license. Does the photo match the driver? Does the taxi cab have seat belts? If in doubt, refuse to ride in the cab and choose another.
Produced by the Office of the Provost Marshal
Headquarters, United States Central Command
7115 South Boundary Boulevard
MacDill Air Force Base, Florida 33621-5101
Colonel (P) Jonathan H. Cofer (USA)
Command Provost Marshal
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