Eagle Eyes: vigilance is key

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- As the special agent explains it, he says the suspect could be a guy at the Visitor Control Center. He could come in and ask for a base map and a telephone book. Then the questions begin. How many security forces are on base? What kind of weapons do they carry? When is their busy time, their shift change, or their deployment rotation?

"Someone who is a security issue is going to try to get any information that would give him an idea of what's on base," said Special Agent Richard Ospina, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Detachment 804 here.

In a time when the country has heightened security in the face of threats of domestic terrorism, the Eagle Eyes program gives on- and off-base people the knowledge of what to look for and maintain 100 percent vigilance.

"So 99 percent of the time, things people notice are benign, but it's that 1 percent that matters," Agent Ospina said.

Special agents visit organizations and brief newcomers about the activities or situations to look for in order to prevent an enemy from getting information or apprehend them, before they can use the information to stage an attack.

"All attacks are preceded by certain activities," Agent Ospina said. That includes someone trying to elicit answers to questions or taking photos of base assets without consent from the 30th Security Forces Squadron. People who encounter someone taking pictures of launch pads or facilities should report it to OSI through the Eagle Eyes program.

The 30th Space Wing, which provides unconditional support for the Missile Defense Agency and National Reconnaissance Organization, has risk assessment programs like Eagle Eyes to help assure space dominance for the United States. But the security of the base does not stop at the gate.

"If you're somewhere in Lompoc, and someone recognizes you as a military member and comes up to you asking suspicious questions, your warning flags should go up," Agent Ospina said. The Eagle Eyes program teaches people not to personally address the issue, but to report it to OSI.

"We're the guys who have to figure out if it's suspicious or not," he said.

Those who see suspicious activity should contact the law enforcement desk immediately, and the law enforcement desk will contact OSI, Agent Ospina said.

OSI also teaches Eagle Eyes awareness and the reporting process to local businesses like hotels and restaurants.

"Say someone is cleaning a hotel room and sees a bunch of base maps, or they overhear a conversation about base security, they know what to do through Eagle Eyes," Agent Ospina said. "By working in the area a while, they know how to spot something out of the ordinary."

Citizens in local communities and servicemembers alike are the eyes and ears of the anti-terrorism initiative against the war on terror. Todd Miz recommends all Airmen be familiar with the Eagle Eyes program.

"It's an important tool for today's Airmen," said the 30th Space Wing anti-terrorism officer. "What someone can learn by being familiar with the program can literally save lives."

Learning and using the seven steps of the Eagles Eyes Program can help prevent terrorist attacks from occurring.

Recognize surveillance methods. Someone who is using binoculars, recording video, or writing on maps should be reported to the law enforcement desk.

Beware of elicitation. Someone who starts asking questions that are of a need-to-know basis, like what time people arrive or leave work, how many people are in the squadron is a sign of elicitation.

Notice tests of security. A terrorist looks for opportunities to enter secured locations, so Airmen must know things like how tall is the fence around the flight line or how easily could a person get on base with a fake identification.

Observe acquiring of supplies. A cover sheet, a password, or a missing uniform might be the key for a terrorist to infiltrate the base.

Suspicious persons out of place. A person who seems out of place in the work area, neighborhood, or in the back roads of Vandenberg should be reported to the law enforcement desk.

Dry runs. A dry run is like a dress rehearsal to make sure all plans are in place. Testing the length of traffic lights, driving to the desired location at different times of the day, and timing how quickly certain tasks are completed are all signs that someone is making a dry run.

Deploying assets. Enemies deploy assets when they have people and supplies in place or ready to go. If the dry run is the dress rehearsal, then deploying the assets is the performance. 

For more information on the Eagle Eyes program click here.