Called « Eagle Eyes, » this program aims to prevent terrorism by encouraging and enabling all Air Force members and citizens to report terrorist planning activities they observe. So we’re enlisting the eyes and ears of everybody. We’re saying, ‘You know best what does or doesn’t belong in your neighborhood, in your work area, on your drive to work, so you’ll be able to spot something that doesn’t quite look right and phone it in.’ »By Major Mike Richmond, Air Force Office of Special Investigations Public Affairs.
Washington D.C. — (AFPN) April 30, 2002 — A new anti-terrorism initiative from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations is taking root around the world.
Called « Eagle Eyes, » the program aims to prevent terrorism by encouraging and enabling Air Force members and citizens to report terrorist planning activities they observe. The program also features processes for rapid follow-up investigations and information sharing to other echelons of command and other law enforcement agencies as appropriate.
« Terrorism is always preceded by planning steps, and those steps are observable if you know what to look for, » said Maj. John Gamache, an OSI special agent working homeland security threat and investigative issues from OSI headquarters at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. « This program seeks to educate the masses, both on base and off, on what those activities are, and then what to do about it if you see something suspicious. »
Gamache said « Eagle Eyes » officially came to life April 18 when Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper signed a memo endorsing the program. Weeks earlier, however, OSI detachments and security forces squadrons around the globe began establishing local reporting processes in anticipation of the program’s launch.
« Security forces are full partners in this initiative, » Gamache said. « Their participation is crucial to making this work at the installation level. »
While local reporting processes may differ slightly, in most cases people will be advised to report suspicious activity to their security forces desk.
« Our squadrons have the advantage of being manned 24 hours a day, all year round, so there’s never a time that a person couldn’t report a suspicious activity to us, » said Maj. Mel Allen of the Air Force headquarters security forces directorate. « Once a call comes in, our cops will notify the OSI right away to investigate, and depending on what the nature of the call is, we can respond to the situation immediately if that’s what’s called for. »
According to Gamache, widespread promotion of the program is critical to its success.
« It’ll do no good to build speedy reporting and investigating processes if people don’t know what to report, » Gamache said. « And for that reason, a substantial promotional campaign is built into the program. »
Gamache said program promotion will include base newspaper articles, briefings at commanders’ calls and presentations to newcomers, family members and off-base populations. Additionally, an official program logo is being designed and will eventually be applied to educational handouts.
The publicity campaign targets a large and diverse audience.
« It’s important that this campaign reaches as many people as possible, to include not just military people, but civilian workers, family members, contractors, off-base merchants, community organizations, neighborhoods, you name it, » Gamache said.
« Our agents can’t be everywhere and neither can the security forces personnel, » he said, « so we’re enlisting the eyes and ears of everybody. We’re saying, ‘You know best what does or doesn’t belong in your neighborhood, in your work area, on your drive to work, so you’ll be able to spot something that doesn’t quite look right and phone it in.’ »
Gamache identified seven categories of suspicious activities that warrant reporting:
- Surveillance. Someone recording or monitoring activities. This may include using cameras (either still or video), taking notes, drawing diagrams, annotating on maps, or using binoculars or other vision-enhancing devices.
- Elicitation. People or organizations attempting to gain information about military operations, capabilities, or people. Elicitation attempts may be made by mail, fax, telephone, or in person.
- Tests of security. Any attempts to measure reaction times to security breaches or to penetrate physical security barriers or procedures in order to assess strengths and weaknesses.
- Acquiring supplies. Purchasing or stealing explosives, weapons, ammunition, etc. Also includes acquiring military uniforms, decals, flight manuals, passes or badges (or the equipment to manufacture such items) or any other controlled items.
- Suspicious persons out of place. These are people who don’t seem to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, business establishment, or anywhere else. This includes suspicious border crossings and stowaways aboard ship or people jumping ship in port.
- Dry run: Putting people into position and moving them around according to their plan without actually committing the terrorist act. This is especially true when planning a kidnapping, but it can also pertain to bombings. An element of this activity could also include mapping out routes and determining the timing of traffic lights and flow.
- Deploying assets: People and supplies getting into position to commit the act. This is a person’s last chance to alert authorities before the terrorist act occurs.
Besides investigating each report, Gamache said OSI detachments will share the information with their « watch team » at OSI headquarters, which compiles such reports and pushes them out electronically in near real-time to other levels of command and to other law enforcement agencies.
Local OSI detachments have more information on local reporting procedures and how to schedule an Eagle Eyes briefing.