Antiterrorism Office provides security tips for trips abroad

Traveling throughout Europe to cities such as Prague (in photo) is one of the chief benefits of living and working at U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach or any garrison in Europe. Nevertheless, ensure you stay apprised of current events and the threat environment. (Courtesy photo)

From the USAG Ansbach Antiterrorism Office

Travel frequently increases during the springtime, including vacations to distant and exotic locations. As you prepare, take time to consider and plan for the security environment you will be visiting. Research online to determine if your hotel or resort provides security, what safe havens – such as police stations or consulates – are nearby, and how to report suspicious activity to the local authorities. Discuss the protection plan with travel partners and family members, establish emergency contact plans and rally points, and think about how you will monitor the situation using local news and other venues.

Terrorists may strike anywhere, and violence may not always come from people you think could harm you. Threats from lone actors are dangerous and difficult to detect.

For several resources and current travel alerts, visit U.S. Army Europe’s Travel Safe web page at www.eur.army.mil/TravelSafe.

Individuals must understand what actions to take if caught in a terrorist attack or its aftermath. Acknowledging the threat environment throughout Europe and ensuring you consider this in your travel plans is a top priority.

We recently have seen a large variety of terrorist tactics and weapon employment. Attacks have occurred against densely populated targets and as random attacks against individuals and small groups. Terrorist have used guns, edged weapons, explosives and vehicles to carry off attacks.


PROTECTION TIPS

Below are some simple protection tips to keep you safe when traveling:

  • Use the internet and mapping functions to research destinations and the security environment, and to ID potential safe havens such as police stations.
  • Know law enforcement and embassy phone numbers
  • Always have an escape plan in the case you find yourself in a bad situation.
  • Establish alternative methods to contact family, friends, and unit personnel.
  • Discuss security plans with your family and other travelers.

INDIVIDUAL PROTECTION MEASURES

Below is a list of personal protection measures that can help ensure your safety abroad:

  • Travel in small groups and vary routes.
  • Carry a card with key phrases in the local language to assist you in asking for help.
  • Let your unit, coworker, family, and/or battle buddy know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  • Be inconspicuous. Do not wear clothing with U.S. or Department of Defense affiliation. Avoid talking loudly or drawing attention to yourself. Remove any DoD- or U.S.-affiliated stickers from your vehicle.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and potential safe havens (police station, hospitals).
  • Avoid gatherings or demonstrations. Calmly leave the area if one is encountered.
  • Know emergency numbers and other important numbers (such as for the nearest U.S. Consulate). Whenever possible, carry a cellphone with pre-programmed emergency numbers.
  • Monitor available media, including news and government websites, and social networking sites (such as “Stay Safe Antiterrorism” on Facebook) for information while traveling.
  • Be cautious in high-risk areas such as hotel lobbies, nightclubs, and other public places like sporting arenas where attacks may occur. Be aware of egress points in case of attack.
  • Register your trip with State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive alerts and messages for your duty station and travel destinations.
  • Off-post uniform wear is prohibited. Follow local policy.

RISK REDUCTION

The following steps will help reduce risk while you travel:

  1. Identify the threat and travel requirements. The DoD Foreign Clearance Guide provides country-specific official/unofficial travel requirements for DoD personnel. State Department travel alerts/warnings, Overseas Security Advisory Council country crime and safety reports, USAREUR quarterly travel messages, foreign travel briefs and your local anti-terrorism officer can provide additional travel information.
  2. Identify vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities make you more susceptible to the terrorist threat. Some questions to ask when looking at your potential vulnerabilities: Will you be in areas frequented by Americans or other tourists? Do your clothes or luggage identify you as affiliated with the U.S. or DoD? Will there be large crowds that present a lucrative target? Is your travel mode or destination something terrorists previously targeted?
  3. Assess risk and develop mitigation measures. Determine actions you can take to mitigate risk, considering things like travel mode, destination, and events. Minimizing time in the non-secure area of an airport, for example, may reduce your exposure. The individual protection measures section on this page provide further guidance. Look at each step of your travel for potential risk reduction measures, and then decide whether the benefits outweigh the risk.
  4. Make an AT travel plan. Once you have identified measures to reduce your risk, document them in an individual AT plan – this may be as simple as making a wallet-size card that includes key points of contact and individual AT measures. Share with fellow travelers, and ensure everyone knows the plan.

FURTHER RESOURCES

Below are further useful resources:

To contact the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach Antiterrorism Office, call 0981-183-7313 / 7945 / 7848 or DSN 468-7313 / 7945 / 7848.

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