KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — One of the top U.S. Army leaders in Europe says he’s concerned that intensified efforts by the Islamic State to recruit more Europeans could pose a threat to Americans living overseas.
Speaking to reporters Thursday in Washington D.C., Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt, deputy commanding general of U.S. Army in Europe, said “(W)e see recruiting kind of accelerating … We’ve seen it all the way throughout Europe and [it’s] impossible to track every single person where they are.”
Piatt’s remarks, published on Friday on The Hill website, come amid increased force-protection measures and security warnings for U.S. military personnel in Europe.
The general also said there is a “possibility of lone wolf attacks,” where “somebody could just take advantage of an opportunity to attack.”
“It’s a real threat to the protection of our citizens and facilities,” he said
On Thursday, force-protection conditions were raised across the U.S. European Command area of operation as part of a planned security rehearsal that was to extend through Friday afternoon. EUCOM officials said in a news release this week that the elevated posture was not in response to a specific threat but was a result of force-protection concerns throughout the EUCOM area of responsibility.
Earlier this month, EUCOM issued new guidance that encourages commands across Europe to examine their policies on wearing uniforms off base.
In an Oct. 1 memorandum to all 86th Airlift Wing personnel, the majority of which are assigned to Ramstein Air Base, the wing’s vice commander urged individuals “to assess your personal and professional awareness of and preparedness for anti-U.S. activity in Europe,” in light of recent U.S. strike operations against the Islamic State.
The memo came on the heels of an Army Threat Integration Center “special assessment” issued late last month, which warned against potential threats posed by the Islamic State, its followers and others influenced by radical Islam.
The memo said that while specific extremist plots against the military community had been not been identified, “terrorist groups and their supporters have the capability of conducting attacks with little to no warning in” the United States “and against U.S. military installations and facilities worldwide.”
Among other security measures, the memo urges U.S. personnel to be careful about posting government and military affiliations on social media.