Vehicle security helps combat terrorism

  • Published
  • By 35th Fighter Wing Antiterrorism Office
  • 35th Fighter Wing
You're on your way home after a long, hectic day at work and the last mission of the day is a stop at the post office to check the mail. It's a quick in-and-out visit, so instead of shutting off the engine and locking the car, you decide to leave it running while dashing inside.

How many times have you seen this here at Misawa? Perhaps you've done it yourself. The justifications range from keeping the heater going in the winter to keeping the air conditioning going in the summer.

No matter the reason, your choice of convenience over security is just what the ostensibly innocent bystander standing at the entrance has been counting on. As you exit with the mail in hand, you're astonished to discover that your car is nowhere in sight.

As your long day just got longer as you call for security forces for help, that innocent-looking person has successfully left the base and delivered your car to the people who assured they would pay really good money for it. Once in their hands, they discover the bonus, your military ID clipped to the visor and your uniform laying in the backseat waiting a trip to the dry cleaners.

A week later your car is driven through the main gate. Although it was a close call, thanks to the registration sticker, the uniform, and your ID card that has been skillfully doctored, coupled with rush-hour traffic, it was a successful penetration. Shortly thereafter, a deafening explosion rips the silence and smoke rises through the air near the base dormitories.

Think this sounds far fetched? Not as much as you may think. In May 2003, a terrorist executed an attack on a housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, using a stolen vehicle to gain access to the compound.

The vehicle and the bomb successfully entered the compound, killing 17 people and wounding more than 100. According to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security statement, terrorists have learned that hitting multiple soft targets such as apartment complexes and hotels with vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices is a tactic that works. It further states that vehicles possess routine access to a target area and are poorly secured and prized by terrorists.

What can you do to reduce this threat?

-- Shut off and secure your vehicle every time you leave it, even if it is only for a few minutes.

-- Safeguard ID cards and base decals and report loss or theft to security forces.

-- Perform occasional vehicle inspections before you get in, looking for signs of tampering: scratches, smudges, strange odors, foreign objects, etc.

-- Don't become complacent; realize your actions have an impact on more than yourself.

Basic crime prevention techniques are effective antiterrorism measures. Make these simple steps a habit; they can significantly reduce the opportunity for crime as well as terrorism. Your actions can make a difference in keeping yourself, your loved ones and the installation safe. Don't be the weak link in the security chain for a few seconds of convenience.