What are you looking for?

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. James Herkel
  • 62nd Security Forces Squadron
I can't count the number of times since 9/11 that I've scanned through the base paper, watched the commander's access channel, or glanced at the marquee inside the main gate and read this advisement: "Report Suspicious Activity to Security Forces or OSI."

Great idea; but what does it mean, exactly? Report what?

Over the years, our enemy has taken many forms. During my career, the "enemy" I've been conditioned to fight against has taken the form of Russian Spetsnaz, Balkan sniper, North Korean Special Operation Force, international terrorist, and any number of anti-American/anti-coalition bad guys or gals. Of course, most recently the focus has been on the insurgence in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and state-sponsored terrorists in those areas of operations. While I believe very strongly that the task of dispatching these adversaries is in good hands, I have concerns with the well-concealed, rogue sympathizers of our worldwide enemies that exist right under our noses.

As all others, this enemy has the advantage of knowing when the attack will occur. In targeting our people, assets, and missions, this enemy also benefits considerably from the ability to collect information and intelligence on the internet. Not so long ago, the enemy had to conduct surveillance at the target; thereby exposing themselves to our observation. Today, however, most of the information they need to plan an attack is readily available on the web including blogs, maps, imagery and pictures. But they still need some help getting their hands on those last few puzzle pieces in order to get the full picture required to complete the attack. It's in their efforts to find these pieces that they must expose themselves, and it's then we must be alert to stop them. It's a challenge, one we all own a piece of and a difficult charge, for sure. Our enemy only has to get it right once; we have to get it right all the time.

When the "Fort Dix Six" were arrested in May 2007 it was revealed that less than a year prior these individuals targeted Dover AFB (among other military facilities in the northeast), but later indicated that Dover was "too difficult of a target." Until this incident there was little hard proof, beyond prudent speculation, that we were doing all the necessary things to protect our installations, facilities, personnel, and missions. Most importantly, though, these enemies validated that we are, in fact, on the terrorists "wish list."

Back to the original issue, exactly what will the suspicious activity look like that I'm supposed to report?

To complete the puzzle, the enemy will likely conduct ELICITATION, which is to say they will cleverly ask questions (either in person, by telephone or email phishing) to learn about our security processes, location of critical assets, or whereabouts of high-payoff targets. The enemy will conduct SURVEILLANCE around the installation or facility, especially at entry control points and vehicle search areas in order to plan the best method of infiltration. This will almost definitely involve the use of devices such as binoculars, cameras, or even sketching material. The enemy may conduct TESTS OF SECURITY such as "innocently" probing fencelines, gates, or even work centers to determine security responses or to identify vulnerabilities. CONDUCTING REHEARSALS, ACQUIRING SUPPLIES, and DEPLOYING ASSETS will also occur but will be much harder to detect.

So, what are you looking for? Nobody understands what's normal around our installations and work centers better than each of you. Supervisors at all levels should be able to describe to their subordinates exactly what is meant by "suspicious activity."

When abnormal, "suspicious" events occur (especially those that are potentially acts of elicitation, surveillance, tests of security, rehearsals, acquiring supplies, or deploying assets), call the Security Forces or your local AFOSI. Hopefully those numbers are already loaded in your phone!

For more information on local threats, contact your local AFOSI "Eagle Eyes" program manager, Security Forces, or installation Antiterrorism Officer. Contact the McChord Field Substation at 982-5624 to report suspicious activity.