With August recognized as Antiterrorism Awareness Month, the Army is promoting a campaign to encourage and train communities to become extensions of the service’s overall force protection plan.
iWatch aims to heighten public sensitivity to indicators of possible terrorist activity, while encouraging people to report suspicious behavior to military or civilian law enforcement agencies. In addition, it creates a partnership between on- and off-post organizations.
“Such information or cooperation may reveal a piece of the puzzle that thwarts a terrorist plot,” said Brian Crowley, of the Installation Management Command Antiterrorism Branch.
According to Directorate of Emergency Services officials, law enforcement and security assets can’t be everywhere at all times.
Consequently, iWatch empowers service members, family members, civilian employees and retirees with protecting places where they live, work and play.
However, iWatch isn’t a neighborhood program with volunteers roaming the streets armed with flashlights and radios.
Instead, it raises community awareness of what to look for and who to call when folks notice something out of place.
The types of activities and behaviors for all to be aware of include:
• Strangers asking questions about security or building security procedures;
• A briefcase, suitcase, backpack or package left behind;
• Cars or trucks left in no-parking zones in front of important buildings;
• Chemical smells or fumes.
Indeed, iWatch works by allowing an individual to report any unusual or suspicious behavior.
“Eighty to 90 percent of the program is raising awareness levels,” said Stanley Andrusczkiewicz, deputy director of Emergency Services at U.S. Army Garrison Bamberg.
Through iWatch, officials hope to direct the attention of community members who may be accustomed to being wary of threats only from outside the gate, in other words, “totally focused on the external and not the internal,” said Andrusczkiewicz.
When a Soldier at Fort Hood, Texas, opened fire on a crowd Nov. 5, 2009, the military became aware of its vulnerabilities on the inside.
Andrusczkiewicz used the metaphor of a clam to describe the focus of installation security before the shooting — a hard impenetrable shell with a soft interior.
Accordingly, everyone plays a key role in force protection.
“Even a minute detail being reported can stop an incident from happening,” said Mike Britton, of IMCOM’s Antiterrorism Branch.
Additional iWatch information, including posters, brochures and videos, can be found on the Army’s Antiterrorism Enterprise Page on Army Knowledge Online at www.us.army.mil/suite/page/605757.