ATFP: Are you the next target

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- "Is that real?" some people remember asking themselves this as they watch plumes of smoke rise in the New York sky that Tuesday morning five years ago. Tragically we all know too well it was real. 

"Real" at Incirlik Air Base is what "could" happen to you - terrorism. Terrorism is a real and constant threat here, thus the 39th Air Base Wing's Anti-Terrorism/Force protection office is one of the hardest working shops on base. 

The ATFP offices Air Force-wide were not always called such. Although the concept has been around for some time, the ATFP of today is the result of the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing where 19 people died, said 1st Lt. Patrick McVay, 39th ABW/ATFP chief. That day, the Department of Defense community was made fully aware of the need for establishment of standards for a formalized ATFP program.  

The members of the 39th ABW/ATFP office, Lieutenant McVay, Master Sgt. Paul Jackson, 39th ABW/ATFP Superintendent, and Tech. Sgt. Evan J. Schleifer, 39th ABW/ATFP NCOIC, are highly trained individuals. Although there are only three people assigned to Incirlik's ATFP office, their mission is important. They are charged to protect Incirlik AB and support unit personnel and facilities from terrorist incidents, deter terrorist actions/operations, detect terrorist actions/operations and provide immediate response to effectively neutralize and contain the situation, institute prompt action to contain/recover from an incident and to take the actions necessary to restore the installation to normal operation and to assist local communities. This mission gets put to the test everyday and is not just a pretty saying displayed on a wall in the office. 

"We are in the part of the world that is considered the dividing line between Europe and the Middle East, with Iraq, Iran and Syria as our neighbors," said Sergeant Schleifer, who has been working ATFP for more than two years. "Incirlik's situation is a reflection of what has been happening world-wide in all things ATFP.   The war in Iraq has been the greatest influence on Incirlik's Force Protection Condition." 

Another influence on Incirlik's ATFP office procedures was 9/11. Although DoD already had a fully developed ATFP program in place when 9/11 occurred, the terrorist attacks in the United States helped bring the program into the spotlight and made people think about ATFP at every level. 

"From Congress to the field commander, it has now been placed at the forefront of planning concerns at home, for deployed personnel, our infrastructure and our warfighting assets," said Sergeant Jackson, who has worked in ATFP offices worldwide for two and a half years. "Everything from how personnel are trained to how money is spent by the DoD was affected by 9/11." 

Keeping Incirlik safe from terrorism is a full-time job for us and it will only get harder, said Sergeant Schleifer. 

"ATFP is constantly changing, dependent upon local and global threats, events and surroundings," he added. "We continuously try to find new ways to mitigate threats, tighten communications base-wide to ensure continuity and unity of effort on all things ATFP, and train personnel to ensure their safety while in Turkey. 

It truly is a Team Incirlik effort because we can't do our job if people on base aren't doing their part to thwart terrorism. The threat is real, but so is our commitment to keep Incirlik's people and possessions safe ... very real."