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(Enlarge) Col. Edward C. Rothstein, Garrison Commander

The Department of the Army has proclaimed August as the Army's Antiterrorism Awareness Month.

Fort Meade's ultimate goal in preventing a terrorist attack involves every organization, every unit and every person in our efforts to promote heightened awareness and vigilance against terrorism.

Antiterrorism Awareness Month focuses on four major themes: antiterrorism training; education and awareness; suspicious-activity reporting; antiterrorism roles and responsibilities for leaders and staff; and enhancing antiterrorism preparedness through emergency response planning.

Throughout the month, we should all strive to enhance our understanding of the nature of terrorism and the potential for terrorist attacks on our installations and in our surrounding communities.

As I have often said, our responsibilities and relationships extend well beyond the Fort Meade fence line. The vitality of our surrounding communities is dependent on our collective efforts to work together to keep our homes, neighborhoods, schools and workplaces safe.

A reporting program we should all become familiar with is iWatch. The community awareness program was created to educate and encourage citizens to vigilantly watch what is happening around them and report suspicious behaviors that may have connections to crime, as well as local, state or national security threats.

The program is designed to make it possible for everyone to report suspicious activities.

Fort Meade established an iWatch program in the spring of 2011. iWatch allows the Directorate of Emergency Services to work with local and federal police and emergency service agencies to share information about potential crimes or suspicious activities.

The iWatch program empowers each of us to protect places where we live, work and play. To learn more about the website, visit iWatchftmeade.org.

We can all take steps to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of terrorism. It begins with each of us taking a proactive mind-set about the security environment where we live, work, go to school and travel.

General awareness tips include:

* Maintain situational awareness of your surroundings at all times.

Pay particular attention to activities around you in order to identify anything unusual. If necessary, leave the area and report suspicious activity or behavior to local authorities.

* Protect your personal information at all times.

Do not reveal details of your personal life such as where you live and work, family members, your association with the U.S. military, email addresses or phone numbers to anyone you do not know and trust.

* Do not discuss personal information or military missions in public, on the telephone or on the Internet.

* Take extra precaution with social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Avoid posting or providing personal information. Criminals and terrorists are known to use these forums for open-source information gathering and for recruitment. These media do not provide "secure" communications.

The key point to remember is everyone can learn to be watchful and help prevent terrorism. Reporting even a minute detail can stop an incident from happening.

We all play a role in helping to keep our neighbors and our communities safe.

We must remain vigilant and aware of the dangers of terrorist activities and we should all make vigilance an everyday focus.

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