Staying vigilant through the holidays
The holiday season is upon us, with festivities such as Christmas markets, celebrations, concerts and other public gatherings. Though these activities are sources of fun and enjoyment, potential risk is always present. U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz force protection officials remind military personnel and their families to exercise caution and stay vigilant through the holidays.
USAG RP Antiterrorism Officer James Miller said it's important for personnel to reduce potential risk when traveling or visiting attractions, entertainment and other venues and activities during the holiday season.
"It is prudent to develop, refine and implement sound individual or family safety plans," Miller explained. "Ensure everyone in the family or travel group knows the plan and continues to take appropriate measures for their safety, security and well-being."
Miller said these plans will differ based on whether you're traveling to a foreign country or simply heading downtown to a local Christmas market. Plans should be developed regardless of how close or far you're traveling and should be specific for the location of travel - however, every plan should contain the following safety tips:
1. Maintain a low profile, avoid wearing clothing or accessories that cause you to stand out. Blend in as much as possible.
2. Know the locations of U.S. Consulates and other safe havens - such as local polizei stations and hospitals - and carry emergency numbers with you.
3. Avoid civil disturbances or demonstrations of any kind.
4. Never travel alone. Always travel in groups of two or more.
Miller also stressed the importance of enrolling in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and checking the Department of Defense Foreign Clearance Guide before planning a trip.
"These sites will give you important travel information before you start traveling," he explained. "Several countries have travel restrictions, so check before you purchase your tickets."
Visit these sites at:
Foreign Clearance Guide: https://www.fcg.pentagon.mil/
Additionally, the USAG RP Antiterrorism Protection Office has developed a Travel Guidance and Individual Protective Measures Guide that may be downloaded from the garrison website at: https://home.army.mil/rheinland-pfalz/index.php/safety.
USAG RP Commander Col. Jason Edwards echoed Miller's sentiments about exercising vigilance this holiday season.
"Everyone should maintain a high level of situational awareness and apply appropriate measures to reduce risk," Edwards said. "Stay vigilant in crowded areas, especially mass-transit nodes such as airports and train stations and have the information ready to quickly report suspicious activity. Most importantly, enjoy the holidays and take care of yourself and your loved ones."
To report suspicious activity, notify local law enforcement, use the iSALUTE link at the bottom of the garrison website or download the U.S. Army Europe iReport mobile app.