In 2007, six men were arrested for their plot to infiltrate the installation and attack Soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J.
Maj. Gen. David Quantock, provost marshal general of the Army, said because of the vigilance and awareness arising from the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, that plot was foiled.
The Army’s Anti-Terrorism Awareness Month begins Aug. 1, but Quantock said civilians and Soldiers must remain in a constant state of vigilance year-round.
“Terrorists, at the end of the day, are looking for soft targets,” Quantock said. “If we create vigilance and have people who take part in this and report it, we’re going to take soft targets and make them all hard targets.”
Quantock said programs like iWatch Army and eGuardian are ways that terrorism awareness can be raised.
iWatch Army operates like a neighborhood watch, Quantock said. Soldiers report any suspicious activity or behavior to local law enforcement or military police for investigation.
Quantock said eGuardian is a reporting system designed to collect information about terrorist threats and suspicious activity.
The system allows that information to be shared across the Defense Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies.
The main focus of anti-terrorism is on external threats, Quantock said. But he cited the Boston Marathon as an example of an emerging type of terrorism that concerns him the most: hybrid threats.
“[The Boston Marathon attack] was folks who were born somewhere else, external threats, who were taught terrorism techniques outside the United States.
But they basically became part of the daily dialogue; they became part of our communities,” Quantock said.
Quantock added that there are important lessons to be learned from the Boston Marathon attack, and that with a good anti-terrorism awareness program, all types of threats are covered equally well with vigilance.
“The hardest part about anti-terrorism is what you may have prevented and not even known about it.
We have come a long way since 9/11, and the interaction between the FBI, local, state and federal law enforcement entities is unprecedented. We continue to make great strides in that effort,” he said.
Quantock compared law enforcement to the sharp end of a spear, saying that it’s up to Soldiers and civilians to report anything out-of-the-norm to law enforcement officials so they can take action from there.
“A lot of people see something, but the courageous step is to do something once you see it,” he said, adding that the goal is not to create a paranoid society, but one that pays attention to something that looks out of place.