Counterterrorism Research Center - Letter From the Director
Dear American Family,
We live in a time – post 9/11 – when simply going about our daily routine hoping bad things won’t happen to us and those we love is simply not enough. We must accept that there are individuals and groups of individuals both at home and abroad who want to harm us and destroy our civilization and way of life.
This does not mean we are supposed to live afraid or hyper-cautious. Nor should we change the way we live, work, and play. That’s what the terrorists want us to do.
What it does mean is that we must add a new variable to our day-to-day mix.
We must see ourselves – in much the same way the U.S. Army trains its soldiers to see themselves – as sensors. Or, as New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority urges its travelers, “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.”
It’s a simple concept, requiring only that you:
A) Never be hesitant or too embarrassed to express a concern to authorities or share information about something you believe to be unusual or out-of-the-ordinary, no matter how seemingly insignificant that something or suspicious looking someone may be. Don’t fall into the trap of NOT trusting your own senses, or hoping that if you ignore something it will simply go away.
B) Commit to educating and conditioning yourself to be aware – be a sensor – at all times.
C) Help other family members do the same.
So how do we notice, recognize as potential threats, remember what we’ve seen, and then report what we’ve noticed to authorities?
The Marine Corps and the Army have something called a SALUTE report. It’s a basic reconnaissance tool wherein combatants on the ground are able to ensure that everything is noted when spotting or making contact with an enemy force.
SALUTE is an acronym for:
Size – How many enemy soldiers are there?
Activity – What are they doing?
Location – Where are they, exactly?
Unit – Are they a special operations unit or a conventional unit? Infantry? Artillery? What do their patches and insignia tell us?
Time (and date) – When were they seen, and for how long?
Equipment (and fire support available) – How are they armed, equipped, and transported?
Now, of course, we are not soldiers in combat, so there is no need for us to look for, remember, or report anything related to enemy soldiers. But the same principles can certainly be applied when we notice anything or anyone suspicious in our everyday travels to and from work, school, and anywhere else.
For instance, let’s say you are walking down the street from your office to a nearby coffee shop, and you notice one or more suspicious looking people that your instinct says you should be wary of: Think SALUTE!
Size – Is there more than one suspicious acting person? Exactly how many?
Activity – What is he or she (perhaps they) doing?
Location – Where exactly are you seeing them? Street address? Across from what store? Corner of what and what?
Unit – How are they dressed? What color or style jacket, shirt, pants, cap, etc? Any distinguishing logos?
Time – Glance at your watch. Remember the time.
Equipment – Any tool boxes, book bags, backpacks, etc? License tag numbers if they are in a vehicle, color and model of vehicle?
Remember SALUTE! And remember that simply being aware of your surroundings is not enough.
How do we know, beyond the obvious, what might appear to be suspicious activity? We know by staying abreast of local threat and security updates, as well as current news events (local, national, and international), because those events can suddenly morph into something close, immediate, and dangerous.
Here at the Family Security Foundation’s Counterterrorism Research Center (CRC) we are going to help you stay informed. The CRC will provide you and your family with frequently updated information – selected from a variety of open sources (an intelligence term meaning books, newspapers, magazines, broadcast media transcripts, and other published items) – as well as exclusive commentary and answers to questions.
On top of that, if you have any questions, concerns, or general comments, you may contact us directly at CRC@familysecuritymatters.org.
We’re here for you, because all Americans – you, me, and everyone else – are helping defend America.
W. Thomas Smith Jr.
Director, Counterterrorism Research Center
W. Thomas Smith Jr. is director of the Counterterrorism Research Center of the Family Security Foundation. A former U.S. Marine infantry leader and shipboard counterterrorism instructor, Smith writes about military/defense issues and has covered conflict in the Balkans, on the West Bank, in Iraq and Lebanon. He is the author of six books, and his articles have appeared in USA Today, George, U.S. News & World Report, BusinessWeek, National Review Online, CBS News, Townhall.com, The Washington Times, and others.