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U.S. Air Force Eagle Eyes Program

(Courtesy Photo)

(Courtesy Photo)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- In today’s world climate, the threat of spontaneous attacks is at an all-time high. Terror organizations like ISIL, Al-Qa’ida, PKK, and even lone wolf parties such as Timothy McVeigh or Dylan Roof have been carrying out attacks all over the world at an alarming pace. Some attacks are in the name of religion, race or political biases. When watching a story on the news about an attack hundreds of miles away, it’s easy to forget that these events can happen anywhere, even federal military installations. In fact, our very own home here at Fairchild Air Force Base was victim to an active shooter in 1994. We certainly were not the last military facility to fall victim:

•Fairchild, Washington: In June 1994, a former Airman, who had recently been discharged for mental issues, opened fire on our medical facility killing four, and wounding 22 others. The attack came to a stop when a security policeman by the name of Andy Brown stopped the shooter with lethal fire.

•Fort Hood, Texas: In November 2009, a U.S. Army major who worked as a psychiatrist opened fire on the base’s deployment processing center killing 13 people. The attack lasted 10 minutes before he was incapacitated by a civilian police officer responding to the incident.

•Washington D.C.: In September 2013, a former Navy Reservist opened fire on the Washington D.C. Navy Yard, killing 12 people before being killed after a brief shootout with local law enforcement.

•Fort Hood, Texas: In April 2014, Fort Hood came under fire once again when U.S. Army Specialist Ivan Lopez killed three soldiers and wounded 16 others before turning his gun on himself.

•Chattanooga, Tennessee – In July 2015, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez opened fire on a military recruiting station killing four U.S. Marines and a U.S. Navy Sailor before being stopped by local law enforcement.

In some of these terror incidents there were signs leading up to the attack. In others, the perpetrators were successful in keeping their plans off the radar. We must always keep in mind, these incidents were not spur of the moment decisions. Incidents like this month’s bombing in Manchester, United Kingdom, the Boston Marathon bombing, Oklahoma City Federal Bombing or the attack on September 11, 2001, took months, even years of preparation.

In the investigation of all these incidents, certain consistencies in their planning process were identified and broken down to develop counter intelligence for people to be on the lookout for. It was from this breakdown, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations created the program known as Air Force Eagle Eyes.

The Eagle Eyes program is a global operation, operated and investigated by AFOSI, and facilitated by Air Force Security Forces Squadrons all over the world. Eagle Eyes is a program which teaches the general Air Force community what signs to look for and how to report those indicators to authorities. At the time, these interactions and observations may appear so minor in nature it seems hardly possible it could part of a complex attack; but in conjunction with other very small or random incidents, these observations being reported could halt a deadly terror incident. These are seven consistent suspicious behaviors you should always be on the lookout for:

•Surveillance: This would be someone recording or monitoring activities by camera, or drawings. For example, if you observe someone taking notes from the side of the road as to how many vehicles are entering the base during a certain period, you should report that observation.

•Elicitation: This would be someone attempting to gain information in person, by email, phone or social media about the base operations or its people. For example, if you are at the casino and someone seems particularly interested in Rambo Gate hours, that should be reported.

•Tests of Security: This behavior could be something as simple as standing on the perimeter fence to see how long it takes to be noticed, or be as bold as attempting to run the Main Gate to see if they can get past the guard. They may not intend to do harm once on post, but they can report that information to their organization for planning.

•Acquiring Supplies: This phase includes purchasing or stealing items like explosives, explosive components, weaponry, ammunition, maps, manuals or the equipment to produce these items. As an example, if someone is purchasing old uniform equipment and military gear from you, but you find that they have no military affiliation, this should be reported.

•Suspicious Persons Out Of Place: This is a very broad concept but the bottom line is; if it looks odd, trust your gut instinct. For example, if someone is doing what appears to be maintenance on the base security equipment, but they are not in uniform, and not in a government vehicle or marked contractor vehicle, this should be reported.

•Dry Run: This action is essentially a “dress rehearsal” of the attack, without actually carrying out the attack. It is done to finalize timing and ensuring all persons can carry out their objectives simultaneously, while identifying strengths and weaknesses of the plan. A real world example of this was during the planning of the September 11, when the hijackers did many practice runs to test timing and cabin crew procedures.

•Deploying Assets: This stage is the final phase of the attack and the last chance to alert authorities. Another real world example is the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing, when Timothy McVeigh parked his getaway car near the target as a getaway vehicle, then moving the Ryder Truck containing the bomb into position.

Put simply, you have natural instincts for survival. When your mind is telling you something is wrong, it likely is. Unfortunately, many people who see something feel that they would seem foolish to call in something so small. The reality is that these attackers are smart and they will be subtle in their actions.

We as security forces, will take your report and pass it up to AFOSI. AFOSI takes this small piece of a puzzle, and adds it to their list of other small pieces to create the overall big picture. Once the picture becomes clear enough, an investigation is started and the applicable agencies link up to thwart the impending attack. We as a community here on Fairchild must rely on one another to keep our families safe.

Every Airman is a sensor, who contributes to the overall mission of Integrated Defense. You don’t have to be a Security Forces Defender, or an OSI Agent to stop an attack. Team Fairchild needs its maintainers, comptrollers, SERE Instructors, civilians, and their families to be on the lookout for suspicious activity and keep each other safe.