Travel safe in Europe during summer vacation

By USAG Italy Antiterrorism Office

Terrorist attacks have become more prevalent throughout Europe over the past few years. Increased travel, mass transit, and large gatherings of personnel could present attractive targets of opportunity for those who wish to do harm. Watch or read the news, check out the State Department’s website for the countries you are traveling to, and contact your unit’s AT Officer for information about travel location(s).

Have a communication plan and meeting point.

With the current threat environment in Europe, it is highly advisable to have some sort of communications plan and meet-up plan set up in advance of your travel, and to discuss this plan with your family. At least this way if something happens and your family gets separated, they all know where to meet up and you will have the best chance of being able to communicate with one another.

Regarding communications during a crisis, telecommunications systems in the affected area may become overwhelmed which may prevent or delay phone calls. Messaging delivery through apps and text messaging uses a different route than cell/landline calls and would not necessarily be affected to the same degree.

It is advisable, in addition to the normal text messaging system inherent in whatever phones your family carries, to have the entire family download one or two of the same messaging app so you may still be able to communicate if something happens. If you still can’t communicate via messaging because the system is so bogged down, having predesignated meet-up points will get the family back together.

Though there is no known targeting of Department of Defense personnel or assets, that does not mean there is no threat. In response to the current threat environment, all personnel must remain aware, alert and attentive to their surroundings.

Remember to review basic individual protection measures and maintain situational awareness.

Some individual protection measures to observe are as follows:

  • Keep a low profile; make an effort to blend into the local environment.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Stay away from high risk areas.
  • Avoid planned gatherings or demonstrations.
  • Carry a cell phone.
  • Know emergency numbers.

Protecting our community and families is a top command priority, and education and awareness are the two most important elements to keep everyone safe. It may seem difficult, if not impossible, to prevent an attack, but knowing what to do if something occurs will improve everyone’s chances of staying safe, keeping in touch, and quickly reuniting with your family. Maintain situational awareness and stay safe.

For more information on how to stay safe, contact the USAG Stuttgart Antiterrorism (AT) Office at DSN: 431-2031/civ. 0703-115-2031.

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