For the holidays: ‘Stay Ready. Stay Alert.’

By Fernando Villalobos, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security:

The holiday season is normally filled with joy and happiness as families and friends come together to celebrate this festive time of the year. Whether the activity is a family gathering, social event in the workplace or attendance to a holiday special event in the community, the enduring threat from foreign and domestic enemies that mean to do us harm requires that we stay ready and alert at all times.

Specifically, terrorist groups and individual lone offenders have been known to choose dates of significance to carry out attacks to increase the emotional impact and to gain publicity; these factors make holiday festivities and events ideal targets of opportunity.

Recent attacks in the U.S. and abroad demonstrate the variety of tactics and locations selected for these attacks. Terrorists often pick locations that are open to the public where large crowds congregate or mass-gathering special events take place. Public venues such as shopping areas, restaurants, stadiums and arenas, concerts, public transit, religious institutions and hotels have all been selected as targets in terrorist or jihadi-inspired attacks in the United States and abroad.

Law enforcement is continually monitoring the threat situation but it is prudent to stay alert during attendance to large gathering events and look for potential indicators:

– Persons in crowded areas wearing clothing that is unusually bulky or atypical for the event, possibly to conceal suicide explosives or weapons.

– Packages or backpacks left unattended in open areas or hidden in trash receptacles, lockers or similar containers.

– Suspicious or illegally parked vehicles near an event or where crowds gather prior to or following an event.

If you see something that seems suspicious, alert law enforcement authorities immediately. The information you provide could make a difference!

You should also be ready to take action and know your surroundings in case of an incident:

– Have a contingency plan of where to meet if your group should become separated.

– Be familiar with exit points in case you have to get away from a threat.

– Look around for items you can get behind to protect yourself in case of a shooting.

– Cooperate with security measures in place at the event – they are in place for your protection.

Preventing a catastrophic incident depends on every person to stay alert and be ready to do their part. Participate in the safety and security of the Fort Bliss community – Stay Ready. Stay Alert.