NAVEUR leader calls for review of anti-terror plans
NAPLES, Italy — Terrorist attacks and threats in Europe and the Middle East this summer have prompted the Navy’s top leader in Europe to call for a comprehensive review of all commands’ anti-terrorism and force protection practices.
Adm. Harry Ulrich, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, ordered Tuesday that each command report to him within 45 days on their current force protection measures, leaders’ vulnerability assessments and what might be done to shore up any weaknesses.
“Recent terrorist attacks in Jordan and England have shown that our enemies are adaptable and determined,” Ulrich said in a statement released Wednesday. “Although we constantly take force protection very seriously, there is always room for improvement, so I’ve directed all commands to review their procedures to ensure everything possible is being done to protect our forces and their families.”
The NAVEUR order comes at the behest of the U.S. European Command, which has called for a theater-wide evaluation of force protection.
Having NAVEUR reports go directly to Ulrich “shows the level of seriousness EUCOM and NAVEUR puts upon force protection,” 6th Fleet spokesman Lt. Chris Servello said.
Ulrich referred to two attacks in London this summer. On July 7, terrorists exploded bombs on the mass transit system, killing 52 people in addition to the four bombers. On July 21, attackers attempted to explode four more bombs. A previously unknown group, calling itself the “Secret Organization of al-Qaeda in Europe,” claimed responsibility for the coordinated bombings, and has threatened more attacks in Europe, according to news reports.
On Aug. 19, terrorists fired rockets at the U.S. warships USS Ashland and USS Kearsarge while the ships were at pier in Aqaba, Jordan. The rockets missed their target.
The attack came nearly five years after the October 2000 terrorist attack on the USS Cole as it refueled in Yemen. Seventeen U.S. sailors were killed in that attack.
In March 2004, 191 people were killed in coordinated bombings on four trains in Madrid, Spain.
Ulrich’s statement said that, after he receives the reports, he will hold a force protection summit at his command headquarters in Naples to discuss solutions. No date has been set for the summit, Servello said.
“Working to reduce predictability and vulnerabilities has repeatedly been shown to foil terrorist plans,” Ulrich said in the statement. “Remaining innovative and vigilant will ensure we have the best force protection measures possible.”