Keep your "Eagle Eyes" peeled

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Stefan Alford
  • USAFE Public Affairs
"Everybody is in the force protection business. We need a system that allows all Airmen and family members to participate and help to identify possible threats." 

That statement was made by Maj. Gen. Marc Rogers, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Vice Commander, at a Force Protection Executive Council meeting here in June. 

That "system," to be phased in at USAFE bases this fall, is a new direct-access phone number that will allow individuals to report suspicious activity for an immediate action by installation security officials. 

The four-digit base number ending in EYES (3937) for the Eagle Eyes program will be preceded by the local base DSN or commercial prefix. The initiative to keep the suffix the same across the command will make it easier for people to remember - especially when they are TDY or traveling, explained Major Earl Layne, USAFE Chief of Force Protection Operations. 

"This is about exploiting the capability that exists out there with the eyes of all our Airmen and families and to make it easier for them to be a part of this (security) culture," Maj. Gen. Rogers told the council members, adding that ideally community members would program the EYES phone number into their government, as well as personal, cell phones. 

"This way," added Major Layne, "as people are out in the community and notice something out of the ordinary, they don't have to think about the number to call - it's already in their phone." 

In an 18 July memo to USAFE units, Gen. Roger A. Brady, USAFE Commander, emphasized that "I want every Airman to ensure their family members understand the importance of the Eagle Eyes program and know the local Eagle Eyes contact number ... Please pre-program your government cell phone (if applicable) with your installation's Eagle Eyes contact number. I also encourage you to program the Eagle Eyes number into your family's personal cell phones." 

Using the EYES number, callers will make contact with their security forces to report the suspicious activity, who in turn will determine if the local Air Force Office of Special Investigations detachment needs to be contacted. 

"While this is happening, security forces will also respond," said Major Layne. "Security forces will ask for specific details regarding the suspicious activity, so callers should be as detailed as possible with as much information as they can remember." 

Items callers should pay particular attention to, Major Layne advised, are number of vehicles (make, model, color, license plate numbers), number of occupants (or pedestrians, if on foot), their appearance (race, clothes, height, weight), location information (cross streets, house/building numbers), and specific actions the persons are conducting. 

"Even though the Eagle Eyes program is not new, the whole community should keep in mind the importance of remaining vigilant and that everyone has a part in the program," said Special Agent Angela Fitting, with AFOSI Region 5. "OSI and Security Forces can't be everywhere at once, and having the community engaged in identifying suspicious behavior is a tremendous force multiplier." 

There are seven areas that the Eagle Eyes program highlights for reporting purposes: 

 Surveillance: Someone recording or monitoring activities. This may include the use of cameras (either still or video), note taking, drawing diagrams, annotating on maps, or using binoculars or other vision-enhancing devices. 

 Elicitation: People or organizations attempting to gain information about military operations, capabilities, or people. Elicitation attempts may be made by mail, fax, telephone, or in person. 

 Tests of security: Any attempts to measure reaction times to security breaches or to penetrate physical security barriers or procedures in order to assess strengths and weaknesses. 

 Acquiring supplies: Purchasing or stealing explosives, weapons, ammunition, detonators, timers, etc. Also includes acquiring military uniforms, decals, flight manuals, passes or badges (or the equipment to manufacture such items) or any other controlled items. 

 Suspicious persons out of place: People who don't seem to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, business establishment, or anywhere else. This category is hard to define, but the point is that people know what looks right and what doesn't look right in their neighborhoods, office spaces, commutes, etc, and if a person just doesn't seem like he or she belongs, there's probably a reason for that. 

 Dry run: Putting people into position and moving them around according to their plan without actually committing the terrorist act. This is especially true when planning a kidnapping, but it can also pertain to bombings. An element of this activity could also include mapping out routes and determining the timing of traffic lights and flow. 

 Deploying assets: People and supplies getting into position to commit the act. This is a person's last chance to alert authorities before the terrorist act occurs. 

"An important point (to the reporting)," said Major Layne, "is that our personnel should not assume that someone else has already identified and reported suspicious activity. 

People need to take ownership in the system to protect our Air Force community and make it a personal responsibility to take action." 

While Agent Fitting doesn't feel the Eagle Eyes program is underutilized, she does believe that "not enough people know what to look for or who to contact if they do see something suspicious or out of the ordinary. This is our 'neighborhood watch' and we all play a part in keeping our bases and communities safe." 

To that end, Major Layne stressed that "a lull in action should not be mistaken as inactivity on the part of people or groups who seek to harm the United States or our Allies. We need to remain vigilant at all times." 

"Everybody needs to understand that they are a part of the force protection system and know the necessary actions they can take to safeguard our people and our assets," summed up Maj. Gen. Rogers. "This is the kind of program that could be directly responsible for saving lives one day."