CHIÈVRES, Belgium — August is Antiterrorism Awareness Month. The U.S. Army Garrison Benelux community is dedicated to enhancing our understanding of the threat against us and the measures we can take, collectively and individually, to protect ourselves. The Benelux Antiterrorism Office stands committed to help our personnel learn how we can better protect ourselves and our community as a whole.
While living in the Benelux provides many opportunities to travel around Europe, people should understand that antiterrorism efforts should happen beyond the local community and workplace. American tourists and U.S. military personnel can be targeted for attacks. People should always maintain vigilance, practice good personal security habits and alert the proper authorities of suspicious behavior.
Below are best practices to follow:
– Never travel alone. Always travel in groups of two or more. Think ahead and choose safe travel modes and routes.
– When departing from home, advise your family members of your destination and anticipated arrival time.
– Whenever possible carry a cell phone and know the local emergency phone numbers such as police and medical.
– Maintain situational awareness of your surroundings at all times. This means to pay attention (see and listen) for things happening around you and to identify anything unusual. If necessary, leave the area and report the suspicious activity to local authorities.
– Take precautions with social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Avoid posting or providing personal information. Criminals and terrorists are known to use these forums for recruitment.
– Do not reveal details of your personal life such as where you live, work, family members, your association with the U.S. military, email address or phone numbers to anyone you don’t know and trust.
– Understand the culture where you are living. Knowing the culture and customs of the host nation will facilitate better communication and understanding and will reduce the likelihood of terrorist attack from actions that foster hatred toward the U.S.
– Developing your basic language skills will help you gain the respect and trust of local citizens, even if your fluency is minimal. Learning key survival phrases in the local language such as “I need a police officer or doctor” will be vital in an emergency situation.
– Stay away from civil disturbances and demonstrations of any form. These venues can turn violent with little to no advanced warning.
– If you think you are being followed, go to a safe location such as the U.S. Embassy, military installation or local police station.
– Look out for potential terrorist recruiting efforts targeting you or your peers via the internet and social networking sites. Watch for anti-American sentiments from acquaintances and report them immediately.
Pictured above: U.S. Army Illustration.