Editor’s note: This commentary was first published July 2, 2015.
WASHINGTON — As we enter this holiday weekend and enjoy the activities celebrating our nation’s independence, commanders and supervisors will remind us to focus on safety as we participate in cookouts, fireworks and outdoor fun.
The safety of our Air Force communities and our families is paramount. While we encourage everyone to enjoy their July Fourth celebrations, please remember to exercise vigilance at all times, especially through the upcoming holiday.
These large gatherings in the United States or overseas are attractive targets to violent extremists. For that reason, we’ve captured some tips we believe will be helpful for you and your families.
Don’t cancel your plans, but do remind everyone at work or at play to exercise appropriate operational security and force protection procedures while taking part in activities — real or virtual.
Whether you’re at work, home or an outside activity, report suspicious activity to your local law enforcement agency, base police or Office of Special Investigations. Suspicious activity that warrants reporting may include:
• Individuals with new or increased interest in critical buildings and landmarks with no reasonable explanation
• Suspicious observation of or unusual questions about maintenance or security procedures
• Loitering, parking or standing in the same area over multiple days with no reasonable explanation
• Individuals wearing clothes not appropriate for the weather or season
• Attempted or unauthorized access to potentially sensitive areas
• If it looks suspicious or out of place, report it
As a general rule, when you’re online, think about what you’re posting. Keep current on evolving privacy restrictions on social media accounts and be aware of online mentions of locations and activities, especially surrounding federal holidays and military events.
Never broadcast private contact information or list your e-mail address or phone number in any public site, like your profile page, a blog, public forum or photo caption. Be suspicious of unsolicited email messages or phone calls from individuals asking for personal information. If an unknown individual claims to be from a legitimate organization, try to verify his or her identity directly with that organization.
The July Fourth weekend is intended to provide us with time for rest, reflection, relaxation and fun as we gather with family and friends to celebrate the independence of this great nation. Others, like our security forces, firefighters and other first responders, will be on the job. We need your help every day. Have a safe Fourth of July weekend.