As the Citadel Shield 2013 (CS13) exercise takes place this week, personnel can expect to see changes throughout Naval District Washington. Among those changes are force protection conditions (FPCONs), and servicemembers and civilians alike should know what to expect when these changes take place.
FPCONs are a system of protective measures used by DoD installations and organizations to guard against and deter terrorist attack. Senior commanders assign FPCONs for their region, and installation commanders may raise FPCONs and tighten security measures based on local conditions.
“We want this to be a safe place for people to be, and by randomizing our antiterrorism measures, it gives us better control by ensuring that the people who are supposed to be here are here,” said Naval Support Activity Washington Antiterrorism Officer William Holdren. “As soon as we close a gate or increase ID checks we are better able to identify and vet anyone who comes on the base, thereby creating a safer and more secure environment for all personnel involved.”
If there is a need to change an installation’s FPCON, personnel should know when the change occurs and what the FPCON level means. Holdren suggests registering with your installation’s wide area alert AtHoc network so that when a change occurs registered personnel are not left in the dark about it.
“AtHoc is our wide-area alert network. It sends alerts to your computer or phone, and that allows us to notify everyone of what is going on,” said Holdren. “Whether it’s weather conditions or force protection conditions, it provides us with an easy way to push a button and reach out and notify all the personnel that are registered.”
By knowing the different levels of FPCONs, personnel can gain a better sense of the security measures in place, the level of a security threat in a real or simulated emergency, and what to expect from them.
- FPCON Normal is the routine security of an installation when there is no known security threat.
- FPCON Alpha applies when there is a general threat of possible terrorist activity, but the nature and extent of the threat is unpredictable. FPCON Alpha measures may be sustained indefinitely. Under FPCON Alpha, installation commanders take steps to increase awareness and limit access to military facilities. Response procedures are reviewed and random checks are increased. Personnel can expect random vehicle checks and enhanced crime prevention efforts. When the FPCON increases, you should be alert for suspicious activity and reduce your personal exposure.
- FPCON Bravo applies when an increased or more predictable threat of terrorist activity exists. In addition to FPCON Alpha measures, installation commanders will increase ID checks and inspections of facilities, deliveries, and packages. Some traffic will be restricted and vehicle barriers emplaced. Personnel can expect to experience some delays due to ID checks and vehicle inspections.
- FPCON Charlie applies when an incident occurs or intelligence is received indicating some form of terrorist action or targeting against personnel or facilities is likely. Under FPCON Charlie, installation commanders continue all FPCON Bravo measures and further restrict access to military facilities, increase barriers and increase random security patrols. In addition to inconvenient delays, personnel can expect special instructions and extra duties to support unit security. For example, be prepared for extra guard duties, alert orders and emergency response drills.
- FPCON Delta applies in the immediate area where a terrorist attack has occurred or when intelligence has been received that terrorist action against a specific location or person is imminent. FPCON Delta is declared as a local condition and, because it disrupts normal operations, is not intended to be sustained for substantial periods. In FPCON Delta, commanders bring their units to a high state of alert and many mission activities are delayed or canceled. All nonessential activities and movements are suspended and resources are focused on defense against attack.
While FPCON Charlie is the highest FPCON expected during CS13, Holdren stresses the importance of personnel knowing what to expect when they enter an installation during the exercise.
“Personnel can expect some increased delays with vehicle and pedestrian traffic at the base entry control points,” said Holdren. “If you’re driving a vehicle and you have more than one person in that car, everybody needs an approved identification card. There will be vehicle inspections and an increased security presence at the gates. There may be times when on street parking will not be allowed. Alpha and Bravo are pretty generic security conditions, but if Charlie is in place you can expect to see a few gates closed. Personnel should be prepared that if a barrier plan is implemented then they might have to walk a little farther to their office than usual; parking may be limited. Personnel should also listen for any public announcements that may occur during the exercise. We also ask is that if you’re not familiar with your command or tenant antiterrorism plan, please familiarize yourself with it.”
By knowing what to expect during CS13, personnel can better prepare themselves during the exercise, and any other time they enter a military installation.
To register with AtHoc, log in to an NMCI workstation and click the purple globe at the bottom right of the desktop, or visit www.cnic.navy.mil/NDW/About/WAAN/index.htm. For more information about NDW, visit www.facebook.com/NavDistWash.