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Eagle Eyes program recruits the entire community

Special Agent Jerry D. Peterson, II
Air Force Office of Special Investigations

An important element of the Air Force Office of Special Investigation's job is to help educate Air Force and Department of Defense members on what to look for and how to be aware of their surrounding environment. OSI wants all members and citizens in the communities around our bases to understand they are a vital part of identifying terrorist threats.

To help do this, OSI developed and launched a program called "Eagle Eyes," which was approved by Gen. Jon Jumper, former Air Force Chief of Staff. This program has three fundamental levels to make, "Every Airman and citizen in the community a sensor."

At one level it is a publicity campaign, at another it is a neighborhood watch program and third it creates the structure for an area source network. Overseas, the area source networks are robust and Eagle Eyes gives the Air Force the potential for the same capability stateside. In short, it expands the radar screen to capture incidents which didn't garner as much attention prior to Sept. 11, 2001.

The 6th Security Forces Squadron and AFOSI Detachment 323 here at MacDill are partners in this initiative, where everyone is advised to report suspicious activity to the security forces law enforcement desk. The law enforcement desk is the control center that is manned to handle and respond to security issues 24 hours a day. Any reported incidents involving suspicious activity cause OSI personnel to be notified immediately to investigate and determine what type of threats face our personnel.

Some questions OSI will ask include; Who is looking at our bases? Are people videotaping our installations? Have you seen people hanging around the gates or other facilities watching procedures?

If someone is asking questions about a base and that person really has no business asking, this should be reported. Are there individuals who are trying to obtain information about DoD personnel or bases who do not need to know? This can be in person, with an e-mail or by telephone.

Above all else, any specific threat information must be reported immediately. Specific threats are those received by any means that contain a specific time or place for an attack against U.S. forces, facilities or missions.

Why does OSI think a program like Eagle Eyes will be effective? It's clear that law enforcement officials can't be everywhere at once. But interested, concerned and responsive citizens are everywhere in and around a base's community. They are the experts of what is normal and what is out of place in their work centers and local communities. To be effective, this campaign must reach as many people as possible, to include not just military personnel, but civilian workers, family members, contractors, off-base merchants, community organizations and neighborhoods.

Always keep an eye out for suspicious behaviors which match one of the following categories:

Surveillance: Someone recording or monitoring activities. This may include the use of cameras (either still or video), note taking, drawing diagrams, annotating on maps, or using binoculars or other vision-enhancing devices.

Elicitation: People or organizations attempting to gain information about military operations, capabilities or people. Elicitation attempts may be made by mail, fax, telephone or in person. Examples include being approached at a gas station (or mall or airport or library, etc) and asked about what's happening at the base; getting a fax (or an e-mail or a telephone call, etc) asking for troop strength numbers, the number of airplanes on base, deployment procedures, how a trash-collection truck gets on base, the location of the headquarters building, how many people live in a certain dorm, where the commander lives, how many people hang out at the officers/enlisted club at night... etc.

Tests of security: Any attempts to measure reaction times to security breaches or to penetrate physical security barriers or procedures in order to assess strengths and weaknesses. Examples: a person grabs the base fence and shakes it and sees how long it takes for police to respond. A driver approaches the front gate (without ID and/or car sticker) and pretends to be lost or to have taken a wrong turn, just to learn the procedures of how he is dealt with and how far into the gate he can get before being turned around.

Acquiring supplies: Purchasing or stealing explosives, weapons, ammunition, detonators, timers, etc. Also includes acquiring military uniforms, decals, flight manuals, passes or badges (or the equipment to manufacture such items) or any other controlled items.

Suspicious persons out of place: People who don't seem to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, business establishment, or anywhere else. This could include suspicious border crossings and stowaways aboard ships or people jumping ship in port. This category is hard to define, but the point is that people know what looks right and what doesn't look right in their neighborhoods, office spaces, commutes, etc. If a person just doesn't seem like he or she belongs, there's probably a reason for that.

Dry run: Putting people into position and moving them around according to their plan without actually committing the terrorist act. This is especially true when planning a kidnapping but it can also pertain to bombings. An element of this activity could also include mapping out routes and determining the timing of traffic lights and flow. Take note of people moving around from place to place without any apparent purpose and doing it, perhaps many times. The appropriate example here is the Sept. 11 hijackers, who are now known to have actually flown on those exact flights several times before Sept. 11. Their purpose was to practice getting their people into position, working out arrival times, parking, ticketing, going through security, boarding, etc. By taking note of everything around them, in one sense they were conducting surveillance and testing security, but they were also doing a dry run of the actual activity.

Deploying assets: People and supplies getting into position to commit the act. This is a person's last chance to alert authorities before the terrorist act occurs. Look for people loading vehicles with weaponry/explosives, etc., and/or parking that vehicle somewhere, or people in military uniforms (who don't look right) approaching an installation or getting into a vehicle, or people who seem out of place standing by at a certain location as if waiting for something to happen. The reports generated from information provided by the community are also made available electronically to other levels of command and law-enforcement agencies.

Base leadership and local law enforcement benefit greatly from the awareness of threats that effect the local community and its residents. When law enforcement, base leadership and YOU as the reporter are involved, the combined efforts focused towards keeping each other safe become truly effective.

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