And Force Protection


This Antiterrorism module should be read in association with the Risks During Foreign Travel module. The latter deals with the protection of sensitive information and routine safety procedures during foreign travel. This module deals more specifically with the protection of people from terrorist attack, especially people on duty assignment abroad.1 

Department of Defense (DoD) policy requires that all DoD military and civilian personnel and supporting defense contractors receive an Antiterrorism/Force Protection (AT/FP) briefing before travel to any destination outside the United States (except Guam and Midway Island). DoD contractors are to provide their personnel working on contracts outside the United States with AT/FP awareness information commensurate with that which DoD provides to its military and civilian personnel and their families.2

This Antiterrorism module is intended to meet the DoD requirements for such a briefing. If the travel is to a moderate, significant or high-threat area, DoD requires that the AT/FP briefing be supplemented by a recent update on threats in the specific area of travel. Updated threat information on specific countries is readily available from the State Department. On the Internet, go, then click on Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Country-specific threat information is also available from the State Department by telephone at (202) 647-5225 or by fax at (202) 647-3000.

Although antiterrorism training cannot guarantee your safety, it will make you more aware of your surroundings, help you avoid becoming a terrorist target, and improve your chances of emerging unharmed if you do become a target.

The Department of Defense (DoD) defines "antiterrorism" as "defensive measures used to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and property to terrorist acts." This is distinct from "counterterrorism," which refers to "offensive measures taken to prevent, deter, and respond to terrorism. Both are part of the DoD concept of "force protection," which brings together all the security disciplines in a broader program to protect service members, civilian employees, family members, facilities and equipment.

The Department of Defense uses a standardized set of terms to describe the Terrorism Threat Level in each country. These terms are Low, Moderate, Significant, and High. The Defense Intelligence Agency sets the Terrorism Threat Level for each country based on analysis of all available information.

Commanders at all levels use the DIA Terrorism Threat Level plus their own threat analyses as a basis for developing plans and programs to protect assets within their area of responsibility. These are called Force Protection Conditions. A Force Protection Conditions is a set of specific security measures promulgated by the commander after considering a variety of factors including the threat level, current events that might increase the risk, observed suspicious activities, etc.

There is a graduated series of Force Protection Conditions ranging from Force Protection Conditions Normal to Force Protection Conditions Delta. There is a process by which commanders at all levels can raise or lower the Force Protection Conditions based on local conditions, specific threat information and/or guidance from higher headquarters. The four Force Protection Conditions above normal are: 

  • Force Protection Conditions ALPHA--This condition applies when there is a general threat of possible terrorist activity against personnel and facilities, the nature and extent
    of which are unpredictable, and circumstances do not justify full implementation of Force Protection Conditions BRAVO measures. The measures in this Force Protection Conditions must be capable of being maintained indefinitely.
  • Force Protection Conditions BRAVO--This condition applies when an increased and more predictable threat of terrorist activity exists. The measures in this Force Protection Conditions must be capable of being maintained for weeks without causing undue hardship, affecting operational capability, and aggravating relations with local authorities.
  • Force Protection Conditions CHARLIE--This condition applies when an incident occurs or intelligence is received indicating some form of terrorist action against personnel and facilities is imminent. Implementation of measures in this Force Protection Conditions for more than a short period probably will create hardship and affect the peacetime activities of the unit and its personnel.
  • Force Protection Conditions DELTA--This condition applies in the immediate area where a terrorist attack has occurred or when intelligence has been received that terrorist action against a specific location or person is likely. Normally, this Force Protection Conditions is declared as a localized condition. 

Terrorist incidents over the years show a trend toward ever-increasing numbers of attacks and sophistication in methods. Terrorist methods include threats, bombing, kidnapping, hostage taking, hijacking, assassination, sabotage, arson, armed raids or attacks, and other measures to disrupt daily activities. Such actions occur rather routinely in some parts of the world, and almost anyone can become a potential victim. The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon have shown that these attacks can occur within the United States as well. 

On March 3, 1998, Islamic terrorist financier Osama bin Laden issued an anti-American "fatwa," or religious ruling, in which all Muslims were openly invited to undertake terrorist attacks against American civilians and allied interests worldwide. This "fatwa" does not differentiate between Americans dressed in military uniforms and civilians. We are all targets. The stated goal is to send the bodies of Americans home "in wooden boxes and coffins." 

The threat of terrorism must be taken seriously by all personnel, especially those who travel regularly. It is now clear that NO U.S. outpost or installation can be considered a low security risk. All U.S. Government employees and supporting contractors are urged to intensify personal security practices while on travel outside the U.S. 

1. Information in this module is from the following sources: Joint Staff Guide 5260, Service Member's Personal Protection Guide: A Self-Help Handbook to Combating Terrorism. Publications of the Overseas Security Advisory Council, a joint venture between State Department and private sector security professionals designed to exchange security-related information pertaining to foreign travel. Antiterrorism briefing developed by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and available at, and DoD Instruction 2000.16, DoD Antiterrorism Standards.
2. DoD Directive 2000.12, DoD Antiterrorism/Force Protection (AT/FP) Program.




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