Air Force Office of Special Investigations urges vigilance

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- As a result of the 9-11 terrorist attack, the Air Force implemented an antiterrorism program called "Eagle Eyes," advocated by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

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

"Eagle Eyes enlists the help of base personnel whether active duty, reservist, family members, or, civilian contractors and the civilian communities surrounding the base to remain vigilant and keep their eyes and ears open to any suspicious activities," Special Agent Whitney Traylor, AFOSI Detachment 101 and Eagle Eyes Program Representative said.

"The 2001 attack did not just spontaneously happen. There were precursor events that occurred that eventually led up to the attack. 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 Eagle Eyes.

"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, a dry run -- practicing the terrorist act, and deploying the assets to commit the act," Traylor said.

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

AFOSI Det. 101 special agents here are out on the streets daily, briefing Eagle Eyes information not only to the base community, but also to local vendors and companies that may be of interest to a terrorist. Through education, 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," Traylor said.

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

Here are some examples of what has been reported through the Eagle Eyes program to Det. 101 in the last year: a cardboard box containing Air Force records found in downtown Dayton; an unidentified male taking pictures of on-base housing; attempts to elicit technical information from a military engineer by an unidentified male; and attempts to buy military security software from contracting companies.

By reaching out to Air Force members, their families and the local community through educational briefings and word of mouth, these incidents were reported in a timely manner. By reporting these incidents, potential criminal or terrorist plots were foiled.

"Through education, we believe many incidents can be easily avoided. Simple things like not leaving valuables, such as your military identification, military uniforms, or deployment gear in your vehicles can prevent a potential terrorist activity from occurring," Traylor said.

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

"The Eagle Eyes program relies on you to remain vigilant," Traylor said. "Only you know your neighborhood. Only you know your workplace. Please continue to remain cognizant and continue to Watch, Report and Protect."