Antiterrorism Awareness: Changing the Mindset

A Renewed Challenge for the Security Educator

by Lynn F. Fischer

DoD Security Institute

The major focus on this issue of the Security Awareness Bulletin is antiterrorism and specifically what the security educator in defense components and industry should be conveying on this subject to the employee or service-member population. The articles included here may be useful as reading material, particularly for personnel who are relatively more vulnerable to a terrorist attempt. And these texts could serve, in content and structure, as the basis for special-focus security briefings for all personnel. With the rash of domestic terrorist incidents, we are moving away from the idea that it’s just people who go overseas to high-risk areas who need a thorough exposure to personal protection measures and antiterrorism (AT) awareness information. Both policy and common sense dictate that general AT awareness be a standard element in security indoctrination for Department of Defense personnel.

Timely guidance

In the wake of of two devastating terrorist bombings in Saudi Arabia (Riyadh in November 1995 and Khobar Towers in June 1996), Secretary of Defense William J. Perry has reissued DoD Directive 2000.12, “DoD Combating Terrorism Program,” dated September 15, 1996. This directive has a lot to say about security education in support of antiterrorism programs. As does the earlier directive by the same title, it tasks military department and other defense components to institute antiterrorism awareness programs. It states that attention must be given to: “elevating the awareness of DoD personnel and their families to (a) the general terrorist threat, (b) the terrorist threat in their areas (including temporary duty and/or temporary active duty and leave areas), and (c) personnel protection measures that can reduce personal vulnerability.”

What is specifically new about the directive, as described by Dr. Perry, is that the approaches previously set forth as suggestions in DoD Handbook O-2000.12-H, Protection of DoD Personnel And Activities Against Acts of Terrorism and Political Turbulence, are now to be implemented as the DoD standard that shall apply to all antiterrorism (AT) force protection efforts. [Note 1] Although currently in revision, the handbook offers a wealth of information that can be incorporated into briefings and awareness publications including personal protection tips for travelers that can reduce personal vulnerability.

A response to the bombings in Saudi Arabia

We can find additional guidance for strengthening the AT element in our security awareness programs in both (1) the language of the final report of the Antiterrorism Task Force following the bombing at Riyadh and (2) in the Downing Report which assessed the Khobar Towers tragedy. [Note 2] The earlier report dated May, 1996, states “The entire training program requires new reinforcement, command emphasis, and innovative media methodologies to aid in fulfilling basic AT training programs. The major challenge noted has been combating complacency-thus making ‘changing the mindset’ a fundamentally important objective.”

The report goes on to say that while sustaining AT focus is difficult despite the training and briefings now being accomplished, “Security consciousness is not adequately emphasized and resource expenditures do not fully support programs. Without continued command emphasis, other problems-such as training and program awareness, limited resources, competing priorities, and perceived absence of threat-will endure.”

The task force report concludes with several recommendations related to security education that will lead to a DoD AT program of excellence. It endorses the Annual Worldwide AT Conference to consolidate, evaluate, and cross-fertilize AT enhancements; stresses the importance of command support and leadership emphasis required to energize AT training as part of force protection; and identifies the need for specific training actions and educational products for AT awareness. This includes the distribution of a video, now under development by the Joint Staff, a commander’s antiterrorism handbook, a personal protection pamphlet for use throughout the Department of Defense, and an AT-Force Protection Card to be used as a personal reminder. Plans are underway by the Joint Staff for the printing and distribution of the following three publications through major military command headquarters. [Note 3]

Coping with Violence, a Personal Protection Pamphlet

JS Guide 5260, Service Member’s Personal Protection Guide: A Self-Help Handbook to Combating Terrorism

Security While Traveling, a tri-fold card with tips about individual protection measures

These publications are authorized for local reproduction within the Department of Defense.

The need for theater-specific training

The recently-released Downing Report (September 1996) reinforces the conclusions of the previous assessment and calls for greater “theater-specific training guidance” for personnel deployed in the command’s area of responsibility. Consequently four recommendations were made by the Downing task force which were immediately accepted by the Secretary of Defense for implementation:

a. Establishment of AT training qualifications and certification procedures for all units and individuals prior to deployment and after arrival in an area of responsibility

b. Mandatory force protection and risk management training for all officers and senior non-commissioned officers deployed to high threat areas

c. Development of antiterrorism training and educational supporting materials, using innovative media methodologies

d. Refresher training for installation/unit AT officers immediately prior to assignment to a theater

While items a, b, and d concern resident or formal training for higher risk personnel, item c is a direct follow-up to the earlier Antiterrorism Task Force recommendation for AT awareness that calls for a variety of innovative educational products. In his comments to the President which accompanies the Downing Report on the Khobar Towers bombing, Secretary Perry states in addition, that local commanders will have operational control and full responsibility with regard to force protection matters, and that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has become the principal advisor and focal point for all Department of Defense force protection activities.

Add AT awareness to the educational agenda

The new emphasis on antiterrorism training and awareness demonstrates again that the skills and energies of security educators are indispensable in confronting a international threat to U.S. lives and properties. In the words of the Task Force Report, awareness programs should be mobilized to battle complacency and to change the mindset: that “It can’t happen to me” or “It can’t happen here.” This is admittedly a weighty task for the security educator already charged with the indoctrination of personnel concerning information security, personnel security, foreign threat awareness, and other educational objectives. However, as with awareness programs to confront the threat to national defense information, AT awareness can and ought to be a community effort in which we draw upon the products, ideas and methodologies of security educators who have the resources to generate effective training materials. We at the DoD Security Institute, the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and others who are involved in the production of awareness publications, videos, posters and other training aids will do our utmost to advertise and disseminate timely threat information and products to support your educational programs. Keep tuned to the Security Awareness Bulletin and to our Web Page for up-to-date information and training products:

Keeping current on the terrorist threat

The intensity of the terrorist threat not only differs from place to place but changes across time. Part of the job of the security educator is to remain current about new and intensified threat areas by keeping up to date on Travel Security Advisories (TSA) issued by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and other sources of current information on the terrorist threat such as the Department of State and the Defense Intelligence Agency. On the next page are sources of information, in printed form and via the Internet to keep your awareness communications to employee populations timely and accurate.

DoD Travel Security Advisories

One of the best sources of current terrorist threat information for DoD personnel is the Department of Defense Travel Security Advisory (TSA) which is a recurring (FOUO) message sent to all Defense Department components and agencies by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (SO/LIC)CT/SA.

The TSA is issued periodically, or whenever there are significant changes to the lists of proscribed travel and special notice countries, high or potential physical threat countries, high risk airports, or if other security circumstance warrant.

A copy of the advisory should be made available from component headquarters organizations to each element responsible for advising or briefing DoD personnel in advance of official travel. The most recent TSA is dated 19 November 1996.

Travel Advisories for Industry and Government Personnel

Assisting both the contractor and government community with information for foreign travel is the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs which offers an excellent Internet web page at The web page provides up-to-date travel advisories for each country and the full text of several pamphlets to promote safe travel overseas.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs also offers a fax service at (202) 647-3000 which provides travel advisories, warnings, and public announcements. In addition, this information is provided through the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (for modem connect) which can be reached by calling (202) 647-9225. Alternatively, users with a PC and modem can access travel warnings and consular information through the Official Airlines Guide at 1-800-323-400.

Audible travel warnings and consular information may be heard anytime by dialing the Citizen’s Emergency Center at (202) 647-5225.


1. From Secretary Defense Perry’s endorsement to the Downing Report as submitted to the President, 15 September 1996. DoD O-2000.12-H was issued February, 1993, by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict and is available through normal publication channels. The Handbook is currently in revision to further delineate the standards and guidance provided. The updated handbook should be ready for distribution in February 1997. The point of contact for this revision is LtCol Leptrone on the Joint Staff, J-34, Combatting Terrorism; (703) 693-8182.

2. The Final Report-Antiterrorism Task Force is dated 6 May 1996 and was signed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, John M. Shalikashvili. After the Khobar Towers bombing near Dhahran, Secretary of Defense Perry asked General Wayne A. Downing, United States Army (Retired), to assess the facts and circumstances surrounding the tragedy. The Report of the Downing Assessment Task Force is dated 30 August 1996.

3. The Center for Security Awareness Information (CSAI) will soon announce a method for the distribution of these products to Defense agencies and to the contractor community.

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