ISIS, Threats to America’s Service-Members and a ‘King Christian X Solution’
Long-time Washington Times columnist Rowan Scarborough recently revealed that the terrorist group known by the acronym ‘ISIS’ (or ‘ISIL’) is asking its supporters in the United States to target military service-members and their families. In response, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency’s ‘Security Advisory 14-01’ dated October 24, 2014 recommends a number of countermeasures (see excerpt below) aimed at making uniformed personnel assigned to the Pentagon less visible. The strategy is sensible from the aspect of reducing one’s chances of being identified by a terrorist as a target for a surprise attack. However, hoping not to be noticed is hardly morale-inspiring, and while the United States undertakes offensive action abroad and conducts counter-terrorism operations at home, being told to be less visible in the meantime leaves something to be desired. In a situation where the conflict may last for many years, asking people to volunteer and them to hide their service isn’t particularly likely to send the right message, either to the troops, their families, the American public or our enemies at home and abroad.
During World War II, when the Nazi overlords of occupied Denmark ordered Jews living there to affix the Star of David to their clothing, King Christian X is reported to have worn one himself and to have asked his countrymen to do likewise. Whether strictly true or not, very few of his Jewish subjects lost their lives in Nazi death camps. If Americans chose to display military-themed bumper stickers, clothing, et cetera, they would be undertaking some measure of risk of being targeted in what have been, to date, isolated ‘lone wolf’ attacks. However, would such an action, if carried out en masse, not offer our service-members the protection of blending into a crowd of visible supporters? At the least, it would be visible evidence of our solidarity.
Each of us must weigh the risks and decide what to do (or not do). For myself, I don’t believe in running scared and learned a long time ago that it is better to stand up to a bully than it is to try to hide had hope. I will continue to display military-themed items, such as the blue star in my car window in honor of my son (SSG, USAF). We can learn from history, and we should ponder how we in America will face the prospect of anonymous and often ‘lone-wolf’ attacks in our communities, workplaces and public spaces. How we choose to respond will say much about our character, individually and as a people.
-SFC (ret) Lloyd A. Conway
Excerpt from Security Advisory 14-01:
“Recommended Individual Protective Measures:
• DoD personnel are reminded to use OPSEC at work and at home
• Secure DoD affiliated credentials (CAC/Building passes) when in public
• Remove any DoD/military/law enforcement decals or identifiers from clothing and vehicles
• Vary your travel routes to and from work
• If You See Something, Say Something.
• Maintain situational awareness or avoid public venues where large gatherings of people congregate
• Educate your family members on basic security practices
• Be careful of information shared on social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
• Lock down your social media and change your passwords regularly
• Do not post anything on social media that affiliates you with DoD/the military or law enforcement
• Do not post anything on social media opposing terrorist groups or organizations”