IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT ALL AMERICANS REMAIN COMMITTED TO VIGILANCE.
Terrorism not only affects targeted American infrastructure and interests, it also targets American citizens in their everyday lives. That is why it is so important for the average American to understand what the terrorist threat looks like, both at home and abroad, and how to prepare and employ situation-based measures to reduce their personal vulnerability. It is also important that people recognize what the proper response is when faced with a threat and understand how to implement personal security measures. Most Americans are not what one might refer to as “the tip of the spear,” either cognitively or physically, when it comes to the ongoing battle against fanatic extremists in the Global War on Terror (GWOT). In fact, for the majority of Americans, the GWOT has absolutely zero impact one way or the other when it comes to the way they live their day-to-day lives ... that is, of course, until they have to travel. Does this mean that every time you travel away from home there is a high probability you will be killed? No, of course not. What it means is that for those of us who tend to walk through life with our eyes glued to our smart phones, this is the time we need to look up for a minute and turn on our situational awareness. What is “situational awareness,” anyway? Situational awareness is nothing more than staying alert, being aware of your surroundings and understanding the possibility and/or presence of threats that you could face in any given environment or situation. An individual with good situational awareness never takes anything for granted, determines appropriate plans and actions for a variety of scenarios and makes security a part of his or her routine—everywhere. In order to mitigate risk, you must first try to anticipate threats and hazards in your home base or the area in which you plan to travel. By taking these steps, you are sure to enhance your personal security and the safety of others with whom you are traveling. It is possible to research terrorist activity by reading local newspapers on the Internet or monitoring police reports in the prospective area of travel. A great resource for overseas travel is the United States Department of State’s Travel Advisory website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html. Additionally, it is important to understand the techniques, tactics and procedures of terrorist and criminal elements in areas in which you plan to travel to enable yourself to have the highest level of situational awareness and to best reduce your risk of becoming a target. Once you are able to identify the threat, it is less problematic to take the appropriate security measures to lower your overall risk of becoming a target. Plan to avoid high-risk areas while traveling, or conduct appropriate safety procedures in the event that these areas are unavoidable. Also, pay attention to the calendar and public schedules of events for your intended destination to identify possible social triggers for demonstrations, violence and other hazards. It is imperative to remain vigilant at all times. After more than 17 years of war, the United States and its citizens still remain vulnerable to terrorist attacks at home and abroad. Our ruthless and relentless enemies are intent on instilling fear in their targets and disrupting our way of life. It is essential for all Americans to remain committed to vigilance—particularly when traveling away from the familiarity and relative safety of their home. With dedication to being aware of ever-changing situations, appropriate planning and proper execution, we can still conduct our business and enjoy our travels with confidence and safety.