Eagle Eyes: AF program reminds individuals to watch, report, protect

  • Published
  • By Special Agent William Scrimpshire
  • Air Force Office Special Investigations Det. 211
As a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Air Force implemented an antiterrorism program called Eagle Eyes and is run by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

Much like a neighborhood watch program, the Eagle Eyes program is an aggressive Air Force-wide watch program that educates individuals on observable activities and what to do if they see something suspicious. The Eagle Eye's motto is Watch. Report. Protect.

"Eagle Eyes enlists the help of base personnel whether active duty, Reserve, family members or civilian contractors as well as the civilian communities that surround the base, to remain vigilant and keep their eyes and ears open to any suspicious activities," said Special Agent James Williams, AFOSI Det. 211, Special Agent in charge.

"The attacks that occurred in 2001 did not just spontaneously happen. There were precursor events that occurred that eventually led up to the attacks," he said. "These terrorists conducted surveillance, planned their attacks and rehearsed their operation."

Lessons learned in the federal law enforcement and intelligence communities played a key role in the development of the Eagle Eyes program.

"Of most importance, we learned that every terrorist act is preceded by observable activities. These activities usually include surveillance, elicitation for information, tests of security, acquiring certain supplies, and a 'dry run' -- with practicing the terrorist act, and deploying the assets to commit the act," said Carlos Romero, AFOSI Det. 211, senior intelligence analyst.

"Once the assets are deployed to commit the attack, it is almost always too late to prevent the act from occurring," he added.

Special agents here at Moody are out on the streets every day briefing individuals on Eagle Eyes information. Not only to base personnel, but also to the local community. Through education and awareness, it is possible to train individuals on how to help prevent a terrorist attack from occurring.

"When the community is aware of pre-attack indicators, they can play a vital role in deterring a potential attack," Mr. Romero said.

Once a potential indicator is observed, it is reported to OSI through various channels. OSI then investigates the reported activity.

The first step to identify a potential threat is knowing what to look for. Always keep an "eagle eye" out for these suspicious behaviors:

Surveillance - An individual who is recording or monitoring activities, including the use of cameras (both still and video), note taking, drawing diagrams, writing on maps, or using binoculars or any other vision-enhancing device.

Elicitation - Any individual or any organization attempting to gain information by mail, fax, telephone or in person about military operations or people.

Tests of security - Any attempts made to measure reaction times to security breaches or to penetrate physical security barriers or procedures.

Acquiring supplies - Purchasing or stealing explosives, weapons, ammunition, uniforms, decals, flight manuals, passes or badges (or the equipment to manufacture them), or any other controlled items.

Suspicious persons out of place - People who don't seem to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, business establishment or anywhere else.

Dry run or practice run - Putting people into position and moving them about without committing the actual terrorist act -- such as a kidnapping or a bombing. An element of this activity could also include mapping out routes and determining the timing of traffic lights and flow of traffic.

Deploying assets - People and supplies getting into position in preparation to commit the terrorist act. This is the last opportunity to alert authorities before the act occurs.

By reaching out to Air Force members, their families and the local community through educational briefings and word of mouth, potential criminal or terrorist plots can be foiled.

"Through education, we believe many incidents can be easily avoided. Simple things like not leaving valuables, such as your military ID card, military uniforms, or deployment gear in your vehicle can prevent a potential terrorist activity from occurring," said Special Agent Rakeem Ashley, AFOSI Det 211.

Law enforcement officials, to include OSI special agents, cannot be everywhere at all times.

"The Eagle Eyes program relies on you to remain vigilant," Agent Ashley said. "Only you know your neighborhood. Only you know your workplace. Individuals need to remain aware and continue to watch, report and protect."