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Vigilance encouraged in wake of Fort Hood tragedy

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Air National Guard recently reviewed the threat potential, and revamped their security procedures this month using the Fort Hood incident as a training template.

"The Threat Working Group met to assess the situation, and has determined that there is no specific threat to the Salt Lake Air Base at this time," said Maj. Nathanael Jones, Installation Anti-terrorism Officer. "We will look at the scenario in Fort Hood as a training template for 151st Security Forces Squadron personnel who routinely practice to sharpen their skills," said Major Jones.

Although the Fort Hood incident has not increased the threat level, the base has been on a heightened threat level alert ever since Sept. 11.

"We have 24-hour security forces personnel who are trained and exercise routinely to defend the base against terrorist attacks," said Major Jones. "They operate daily based on current threat situations. Since 9/11, we've increased both the tempo and the scope of anti-terrorism measures."

The SFS is not only well equipped, but is enhanced by interagency coordination with Joint Forces and state law enforcement agencies. Contingency response is a team effort with experts from federal, state and local governments, as well as non-governmental agencies that work as one.

"We also train with Salt Lake City SWAT, and learn SWAT tactics," said Senior Master Sgt. Eric Redd, SFS manager. "Not only do we train with local law enforcement, but several of our members are local policemen."

"Security forces has a marksmanship team that has always done well in national competitions," added Sergeant Redd. "We are very well trained in combat arms. We also train and practice "Active Shooter" scenarios (like in the case of Fort Hood) to aggressively go in and engage a (potential) shooter."

Major Jones also expressed confidence in the abilities of the base's SFS team, stating that if the base was faced with a Fort Hood scenario, he is confident the situation would have been dealt with just as swiftly.

"There isn't much that happens on base that our security forces doesn't know about. The Joint Terrorism Task Force is also very good at communicating, and we are very aware of the national criminal and terrorist threat," he said.

Major Jones paused, and then continued with a caution to all Utah Air Guardsmen.

"It is the job of every Guardsman to exercise vigilance, and to utilize their situational awareness. If anyone is privy to a pattern of behavior, or any type of suspicious incident, immediately report this information to your commanders or to the trained members of the 151st Security Forces Squadron."