News: Protecting military families from terrorist is rewarding experience
Story by Lance Cpl. Jennifer Pirante
IWAKUNI, YAMAGUCHI, Japan - There are many unseen elements at work aboard the air station that are dedicated to the safety and well-being of service members, their families and civilians.
The Department of Defense Antiterrorism Awards Program was established in 1993 to recognize deserving individuals and units in the anti-terrorism field who work behind the scenes to protect DOD personnel, family member facilities, installations and ships.
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, was recently recognized as the winner of the 2010 DOD Antiterrorism Award for Best Antiterrorism Program in the fixed installation, small unit category.
Andrew Samuels, station antiterrorism officer, also recently received DOD Honorable Mention for the Best Anti-terrorism Program Manager of year 2010.
As an antiterrorism officer, Samuels is responsible for coordinating all security and antiterrorism measures for individual units and departments.
“Samuels is very good at getting everybody together and working to get the mission accomplished,” said Staff Sgt. Julian Perez, physical security chief with the Provost Marshal’s Office here.
Department antiterrorism officers are recognized by DOD as the backbone of the antiterrorism programs implemented and maintained among installations.
According to Bryan Findlay, antiterrorism chief with PMO, Samuels is directly integrated with PMO operations, which makes it easier for him to communicate and gain the resources he needs.
According to Samuels, individuals and unit personnel work hard to heighten awareness of military and family members to the nature and danger of terrorism while also helping to deter and prevent terrorism through aggressive defense measures.
“The key ingredient to our success is strong command leadership across the installation,” said Samuels.
The air station has evolved and carried out numerous antiterrorism operational improvements accomplished by various members of the U.S. - Japan Antiterrorism Team, which includes PMO, the Facilities Department and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
Samuels recognized the Facilities Department as a strong, proactive program and essential element of the antiterrorism effort.
“Our Facilities Department has corrected security deficiencies in timely and rapid manners,” said Samuels. “They were identified as having one of the best programs seen in how they process and correct security deficiencies.”
Effective integration and effective communication between U.S. and Japanese forces allowed the installation to save the U.S. taxpayer more than $2.4 million during a four-year period.
“It was a win-win for the entire installation. The provost marshal and several of his staff received high-level recognition and praise for that,” said Samuels. “Now that we have Japanese personnel searching the vehicles, they can speak the language and understand customs and courtesies, so it’s easier to get a search done because they can communicate effectively.”
The Base Cluster Four Bilateral Antiterrorism Group, which consists of 16 U.S. and Japanese police, intelligence and antiterrorism agencies, greatly increases information flow.
“We were recognized for having the best counter surveillance detection program,” said Findlay. “We meet with Japanese police, the Iwakuni Coast Guard and the JMSDF to maintain a steady flow of information.”
Perez agreed communication is a key element to the security and antiterrorism effort.
According to Perez, MCAS Iwakuni has very few issues when it comes to integrating physical security and antiterrorism elements, which makes this installation unique from others.
“I am extremely proud of our accomplishments,” said Samuels. “Team Iwakuni has risen the bar, taking antiterrorism force protection to a new level.”
Antiterrorism aboard the air station remains a group effort as various elements work together to integrate and find solutions.