Safe summer travel advised

By Troy Gilliard: 27th SOW Antiterrorism Officer

The weather is warm and the kids are out of school, so what are your summer plans? Many of us are dreaming of baseball, hot dogs and apple pie, but others are likely planning on where they will spend their summer vacations. Perhaps basking in the sun on the pristine beaches of the Caribbean, touring the mighty Redwoods in Sequoia Valley of California, or tracking lions on an African Safari.

Whatever your interest, you will soon pack the suitcases and head off for this year’s hot spot. As you write your packing list, budget your funds and book your plane tickets, don’t forget to formulate a good safety plan. Nothing can ruin your plans quicker than a criminal’s ill intentions, especially if you’re thousands of miles away from home in a foreign country.

I know what you’re thinking. Who in their right mind would be interested in me? According to www.usda.gov, “the risk of becoming an intelligence target increases greatly during foreign travel.” An American government official, scientist or business traveler with access to useful information can easily become the target of a foreign intelligence or security service at any time in any country. Conversely, never think you are too low-ranking to be of interest. Secretaries, file clerks and cleaning crew are targeted because they can often provide access to valuable information.

So what information do you consider when designing your security plan? Below are a few questions that you need to contemplate before traveling:

• Do you carry cash or take traveler’s checks?

• Where’s the best place to sit on the plane?

• What clothing do you wear?

• What hotel do you stay in and what do you do if you feel you are in danger within your hotel room?

• Where do you go for help should you find yourself in trouble in a foreign country?

So, where can you find the answers to these questions?

There are numerous security resources, but here are a couple of my favorites. If you are looking for country threat updates,

• http://www.da.usda.gov/pdsd/ Security%20Guide/T4travel/Updates.htm#Country-Specific

is a great website. Here you can link to various other resources that detail how to avoid becoming a target and explaining a course of action if you get arrested while in a foreign country. Another great source of force protection awareness is:

• https://atlevel1.dtic.mil/at/.

This site provides you basic-level antiterrorism awareness. You’ll need to register your information but the training is completely free.

Bon voyage and enjoy your summer travels. If you take the time now to devise a safety plan before you depart, you can relax and be at ease while enjoying a safe and fun summer vacation.