As Fort Lee plunges into a new year of training activities and other community functions, DPTMS Protection Branch officials are asking for a momentary pause in the action to review the very important topic of FPCON levels and associated security measures.
“Even though this is a mandatory annual training topic for military and civilians workers here, the need to reiterate the information through other means is, without question, essential to ensuring every community member is knowledgeable and engaged,” emphasized the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security antiterrorism officer.
“Consider our retiree community, family members, students in training and others who may not have an OPSEC certification requirement,” the AT officer added. “They need to know this information just as much as everyone else. We need to clear up any confusion about it. This topic is too important – a possible lifesaver in a worst-case scenario – to ever throw on a back burner.”
Force Protection Conditions are defensive measures designed to protect military communities (people) and critical assets such as, but not limited to, training equipment and schoolhouse buildings, headquarters elements, electrical stations and hospitals. There are four condition categories: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta. Corresponding to them are measures that each installation is required by regulations to put into place. Easily remembered as “the five Ds,” they are deter, detect, delay, deny and defend.
“Most installation’s operate at FPCON Alpha or Bravo on pretty much a regular basis these days,” the AT officer said with a side note that the current protection status here is prominently noted on the Fort Lee homepage. “The general threat of a terrorist attack or other hostile act always exists. It is the world we now live in. It is our job – meaning force protection teams and every community member – to watch, listen and report. All of it helps our law enforcement professionals detect suspicious activities and/or deter potential threats.”
The scalability of FPCON levels and measures allows local commanders to tailor the installation’s response according to the type and credibility of the threat. This is important because there is a cost associated with each FPCON – ranging from additional security personnel to the level of inconvenience people experience at the gates or the entry point into their work building. The right mix is a balance of the level of security necessary to protect the installation and the amount of freedom military troops and civilian workers need to accomplish the mission. It can change quickly based on threat reporting or the criticality of the mission.
“Awareness of and planning for changes in FPCON levels on a team or individual level is important because the higher it goes, the more impact it’s likely to have on your routine activities,” the AT officer further advised. “If we moved to Charlie or Delta, there would be a corresponding expectation for increased vigilance, i.e. supporting the building manager who may be tasked with setting up barricades or conducting 100 percent ID checks; reporting suspicious vehicles or unattended packages; asking families to shelter in place to the best extent possible until the danger has passed; emphasizing to subordinates that any suspicious activity must be reported; and so on.”
Community members who acknowledge and promote the importance of the FPCON process are already contributing to its success. On a daily basis, they’re the ones who will likely listen to that inner voice telling them, “maybe you shouldn’t talk about the upcoming mission or the new piece of equipment in a public setting.” They’re more apt to weigh the detrimental impact of things they post online or share with followers on social media. They’ll help their families understand who is watching and listening.
“Many among Team Lee would probably be shocked to learn how aggressive our adversaries are in looking for vulnerabilities and painting potential targets of attack,” the AT officer said. “Having seen it first-hand, I can say with all seriousness that we cannot let our guard down in any aspect of threat awareness, force protection and operational security.”
Protecting Fort Lee’s perimeter is the job of Fort Lee’s gate security team. All vehicles that enter the installation are subject to search as part of the Random Access Measure Program, which is the planned employment of higher level FPCON measures at varied times and places to keep potential attackers off balance and uncertain about security procedures.
Anybody on post who sees something suspicious should report it to the military police at 804-734-3400. Those off post should call the local law enforcement office.