YUMA, Ariz. - August is Anti-Terrorism Awareness Month and in observance of the 10th year of raising awareness on preventing and assessing a potential terrorist threat. Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) kicked off the campaign with a free fall flag jump.
Soldiers from the Military Freefall School jumped thousands of feet above the sky, with the symbolic Antiterrorism Flag. The purpose is to raise anti-terrorism awareness among soldiers, families, and community members in hopes of preventing future mass shootings like the recent one in El Paso, Texas.
YPG Installation Antiterrorism Officer, Charlie Johnson, explained how the real terrorist threat to a military installation is no longer only a “bomb or explosive device”.
“Everyone thinks it’s always bombs or explosive devices,” said Johnson. “But the biggest anti-terrorism nightmare is an active shooter and the best way to prevent this is by educating yourself."
Prevention is believed to be the best way to prevent a potential active shooter. The El Paso shooter, accused of killing at least 20 people, posted an online manifesto in which he targeted “the Hispanic invasion.”
This kind of language can be easily found or posted to online forums and often goes unreported. The main thing community members can do is to report any suspicious activity including activity found online.
“The biggest buzzword that we have is: if you see something, say something,” said Col. Ross Poppenberger. “We want our workforce to be safe.”
Much of the training during this month-long awareness initiative is going to involve preventing an active shooter. Chief of Operations for Fort Hood-Garrison, Ricky Rounds, was at both active shooter incidents in 2009 and 2014.
Rounds will be leading a local workshop for all military personnel, local Yuma law enforcement, federal agents, and the local FBI bureau to learn more about the topic.
The time for being complacent about active shooter threats is long gone; Americans are living in a time when we must be alert at all times.
“Terrorism is here in the US, in the homeland, and we want to raise awareness throughout the community,” said YPG’s Lead Program Analyst, Gary Simpler, who was behind the organizing of the jump.
“Everyone plays a role in increasing our security, if you see something that does not look normal report it, it’s time to act," Simpler added.