Protect yourself: Practice situational awareness

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Military members in a foreign country are "soft" targets and more vulnerable to individual terrorist attacks. Situational awareness along with practicing individual protective measures is the best deterrent to terrorist attacks against individuals. 

"Experience has shown that alertness, coupled with common sense and personal initiative in taking security precautions, is the best deterrent to terrorist attacks against individuals," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Culley, 48th Fighter Wing Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection office. 

Terrorists have been responsible for detonating bombs in crowded public places; hijacking commercial aircraft and holding passengers for ransom; and assaulting, kidnapping, and assassinating, diplomats, military personnel and business executives. 

"Terrorists strike when and where they sense their targets to be most vulnerable and are most successful when personal security measures are lax and daily routines are predictable," said Sergeant Culley. "Therefore, defensive measures should be considered in direct relationship to the likelihood of terrorist activity in the country where you are assigned or traveling. The terrorist threat varies from country to country." 

Quick Tips to Protect Yourself and Family Members 

Keep a low profile - Clothes, automobiles and other outward signs of nationality should not severely contrast with those of the country to which you are assigned or in which you are traveling. Clothing should not give the impression of wealth or importance (Do not flash large sums of money). 

Establish points of contact - Someone should know your whereabouts at all times. Keep your family, supervisor and wingman aware at all times. 

Avoid routine schedules - Routine schedules are easy to follow. Be particularly sensitive to the possibility of surveillance. Arrival and departure times, as well as the routes taken to and from work or home, should be varied as often as possible. 

Avoid wearing military uniforms - During periods of travel and recreation, wearing military uniforms could attract unwanted attention. 

Avoid going out alone - Since there is usually safety in numbers, avoid going out alone. Form groups of three or more in public to deny an attractive target-of-opportunity. 

Avoid shortcuts when walking - Walk only on well-lit, heavily traveled streets whenever possible. Avoid shortcuts through alleys. 

Avoid civil disturbances - Every effort should be made to avoid civil disturbances, protests or disputes with local citizens.