Military Raises Security Status at US Bases Because of ISIS Threat

Increase to FPCON Bravo will mean tighter security at U.S. facilities.

May 8, 2015, 1:50 PM
PHOTO: U.S. air Force security patrol near stopped traffic entering the front gate at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, Ark., in this July 23, 2014 file photo.
U.S. air Force security patrol near stopped traffic entering the front gate at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, Ark., in this July 23, 2014 file photo.
Danny Johnston/AP Photo

— -- Military bases and installations in the United States have been ordered to raise their force protection condition status to Bravo (FPCON Bravo), due to general concerns about ISIS related threats, but not because of any specific threat or plot.

U.S. Northern Command’s Admiral William Gortney ordered the increase in the force protection condition from FPCON Alpha, which is the standard for U.S. military bases.

The order will result in some visible increases in security, though there will also be other not-so-visible measures that will be taken. It is unclear how long the order to raise the force protection condition will remain in effect.

Force Protection Conditions essentially set a baseline for U.S. military facilities to follow for their security. This would include military recruiting stations and offices outside of U.S. military bases. The Pentagon has also been at FPCON Alpha, but with an enhanced security posture for quite some time.

The last time the force protection status was raised to the Bravo level was on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The higher levels of force protection are Charlie and Delta.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren confirmed the increased force protection but stressed it was not due to a specific threat but “a general increase in the threat environment.” He explained “We’ve seen what happened in Texas, we’ve seen other social media and Internet-based discussions and threats and so we have detected a general increase in the overall environment.”

Earlier this week, two gunmen were killed by police in Garland, Texas, as they targeted a contest for cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The FP Condition was raised to Bravo “as a prudent measure to remind installation commanders at all levels within the USNORTHCOM area of responsibility to ensure increased vigilance and safeguarding of all DOD personnel, installations and facilities," a defense official said. "This change, in addition to random drills or exercises, is a mean to ensure that we effectively execute our force protection mission.”

The official said Thursday's comments by FBI Director James Comey about the ISIS threat to the U.S. homeland were taken into consideration by Gortney in raising the force protection condition.

“We share the same concern about the potential threat posed by homegrown violent extremists, as discussed publicly by Director Comey and others. While our FPCON change is not tied to a specific, credible threat, recent events have led us to recognize the need to take prudent steps to ensure our FPCON measures can be increased quickly and unpredictably at the macro level, just as they routinely vary at the micro level on individual installations.”

The official stressed, "This FPCON change is not tied to any specific threat, but one of the ways we ensure the force protection of our service members and their families."

Definitions of the military's force protection conditions are available on official military websites.

FPCON NORMAL: This condition applies when a general global threat of possible terrorist activity exists and warrants a routine security posture.

FPCON ALPHA: This condition applies when there is an increased general threat of possible terrorist activity against personnel or facilities.

FPCON BRAVO: This condition applies when an increased or more predictable threat of terrorist activity exists.

FPCON CHARLIE: This condition applies when an incident occurs or intelligence is received indicating some form of terrorist action or targeting against personnel or facilities is likely.

FPCON DELTA: Applies in the immediate area where a terrorist attack has occurred or when intelligence has been received that terrorist action against a specific location or person is imminent.

Warren said that broadly speaking the enhanced security procedures could include additional checking of ID’s at entrances to military installations, a heightened security awareness, and additional personnel providing security. He noted there could be longer lines as personnel enter military installations that could have a traffic implication for some areas.

Some military installations have begun adjusting public access as a result of the security increase.

For example, Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, has issued a statement announcing that tonight’s spring concert at National Museum of the U.S. Air Force have been cancelled “due to elevated security measures” at the base. Tours of the base and the museum have been cancelled until further notice.

But at the sprawling Marine base in Quantico, Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C., a spokesman said the National Museum of the Marine Corps will remain open this weekend.

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