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Community security starts with you

by Michael J. Roberts
Assistant installation antiterrorism advisor

The Department of Defense has many tools it uses in furthering its antiterrorism programs. There are dozens of councils, boards and working groups in Air Mobility Command alone that seek to guide and implement protective programs. But we have the best antiterrorism and security tool here on our base: our community.

The key to using this tool is fostering a culture of security awareness where every Airman, employee and family member aids in the protection of our community and organization.

Security programs, done well, are an investment in our quality of life rather than an expense. We can post more guards and buy the best technology, but the overall effect doesn't likely match the capability we gain when everyone is a stakeholder in protecting each other and our missions.

The quickest and most cost-effective way to improve security in a community or organization is through education and awareness. We spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours preparing for crisis management - our actions in responding to a threat, incident or crime. We likewise train and prepare for consequence management - recovering from an incident.

Crisis and consequence management are largely reactive and after the fact. Security and antiterrorism awareness are proactive measures that can prevent a crime or incident, or should one occur, hasten and improve our response. They affect all aspects and phases of our protective programs.

Crime, to include terrorism, often relies on three elements: motivation to commit the act, opportunity and the ability. Security awareness impacts all of these.

An organization that promotes vigilance will close the window of opportunity for an adversary by detecting them faster and possibly deterring the act from occurring. An alert and educated organization likewise erodes an adversary's capability. Security awareness complicates the planning and execution cycles in criminal and terrorist acts; it simply makes all aspects of the crime harder.

Our response is faster and our decision-making more accurate when everyone pulls together to protect each other. We get greater freedom of movement by focusing on the right things and we increase an adversary's or criminal's margin of error - positively impacting our quality of life by deterring or limiting many ill events.

This deterrent factor is a reflection of us acting on the motivation for committing an adverse act. With better information and greater focus provided by an alert community, we can carefully select tactics and wisely commit resources for everyone's security.

Leveraging the strength of our community through awareness and education includes weaving a security culture through all aspects of our community. Increasing our vigilance where anyone reports or challenges suspicious events and everyone is on guard for benefit the community is vitally important. This entails knowledge of the threat, appreciating our risk, and a familiarity with contacts for reporting an event or incident.

On our installation, the eyes and ears in our community are much more powerful than if we were to rely on the Security Forces alone. Education is based on increasing knowledge of key aspects of our protective programs.

Bottom line; if it looks suspicious to you, then it is…report it to the 6th Security Forces Squadron at 828-3322 or the Office of Special Investigation at 828-4921.

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