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Homeland Security

Vigilance begins at home

January 29, 2013

By Molly Hayden, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Public Affairs

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- As a military community overseas, it's important for the public to maintain vigilance in thwarting terror attacks. According to the Institute of Homeland Security Solutions, more than 40 percent of foiled terrorist plots between 1999 and 2009 were discovered via observations from the general public; each started with a simple tip of suspicious activity.

"It really takes a village to stay safe," said Jerry Hollo, anti-terrorism officer for the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.

Hollo said the overall threat situation in the U.S. Army Europe area of operations is strongly influenced by events occurring in the Middle East, Islamic extremist activity in Europe, potential unrest due to European Union imposed economic austerity measures, and the increased probability of protests triggered by recent and future releases of controversial films, such as "The Innocent Prophet" and "Zero Dark Thirty."

Additionally, Hollo explained that low-level violence or terrorist attacks may occur in Europe as a consequence of violence in the Levant region, which includes Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Cyprus. Extremists reacting to events involving Israel may attempt to target Israeli or Jewish sites throughout Europe for retribution.

"Department of Defense personnel must remain aware that potential terrorist attacks similar to the July 2012 bus bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria, can occur anywhere," said Hollo adding that although these attacks may not target DoD personnel, there is the potential that U.S. personnel could be collateral casualties.

"Therefore, individual vigilance is the best defense to reduce risk," added Hollo, pointing to the Random Anti-terrorism Measure program.

The Random Anti-terrorism Measure program, or RAM, is used to deter against terrorist attacks or surveillance attempts by employing security measures that alter the security signature of the installation, thereby disrupting the terrorist's attack-planning cycle. It is an integral element of the Grafenwoehr Protection Program and participation by all tenants is required by regulation.

Using a variety of additional security measures in the baseline security posture prevents overuse of security forces, as would happen if a higher force protection condition were maintained for an extended period.

Germany saw two failed terrorist plots in 2006 and assaults on 32 police officers in 2012. While the garrison continues to work with host nation authorities to mitigate this type of violence, assistance from the community is welcomed.

"I think everyone has a clear understanding of what normal looks like," said Hollo. "So if there is something out of the ordinary, something that is not normal, report it."

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