Gen. Jones tells Europe bases to assess safety practices
STUTTGART, Germany — Security experts at U.S. bases in Europe have been ordered to review their safety practices and make recommendations for improvements.
The order, by Marine Gen. James L. Jones, commander of the U.S. European Command, comes one month after three protesters cut through a fence in broad daylight at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart and walked around the base unchallenged.
Jones said in a press release that the security review was owed to the people who live and work on the bases, especially family members of troops deployed in war zones.
“Force protection is my No. 1 priority,” Jones said in the release. “Although current security procedures in place in and around EUCOM installations are good, force protection can never be treated as ‘business as usual’ ... there is always room for improvement.”
The release did not indicate if the action was taken in response to the Aug. 9 incident. That day, three anti-war protesters, including a 70-year-old woman, turned themselves in to police after they cut a large hole in the fence at Patch Barracks, where EUCOM headquarters is located, walked onto the base and hung a banner.
They then walked from one end of the base to the other and out the main security gate, where they turned themselves in. At the time, a spokeswoman for Installation Management Agency-Europe, which oversees Army bases in Europe, said she did not suspect the security breach in Stuttgart would cause other bases to immediately review their security set-ups.
Bases were given 60 days to make assessments and recommendations. Corrective actions were to be taken immediately, according to the release.
Installations and commands have money in their budgets to address force protection, according to EUCOM spokeswoman Army Maj. Holly Silkman.
“Any identified requirements that exceed current budgets will be addressed appropriately at that time,” Silkman said. “Critical improvements will be made immediately.”
Air Force Col. Keith Anderson, the anti-terrorism division chief at EUCOM’s European Plans and Operations Center, said people who live and work on the bases could help make them safer.
“In many cases, the best vigilance against terrorist activity comes from alert community members who see it and report it,” Anderson said in an e-mailed message. “We don’t want people taking it into their own hands. They need to alert the authorities immediately.”
Art Richard, the provost marshal for the 6th Area Support Group which operates Stuttgart’s installations, said neighbors could help spot terrorists or other troublemakers in their own neighborhoods.
“They know what’s supposed to be out there,” Richard said. “They know what’s normal and what’s not normal.”