Force protection inconveniences keep Incirlik safer

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. James Collins
  • 39th Security Forces Squadron commander
"Hey, lets go down to the Alley."
"Not tonight, they changed the curfew again. We have to be on base at 10 p.m."
"What! They are messin' with my
social life! There is no reason for these changes!!"

You may have heard similar conversations in recent weeks. Every American on Incirlik is probably very aware of the recent curfew changes and other minor adjustments to some of our procedures. 

Believe it or not, these changes are specifically designed to keep you safe - there is not an "Office of Hassles and Inconveniences" that makes this stuff up. 

But, before I go further, let me introduce myself ... I am one of "they." 

As a member of the Threat Working Group, I help evaluate the dangers of living here. The TWG examines all kinds of information on a daily basis, not only on the threat from terrorists, but also on the threat from criminal activity and health hazards. 

The TWG receives information from a network of military, police and intelligence agencies. After careful deliberation, the TWG provides force protection recommendations to the installation commander. That is simply what they, oops, I mean "we" do. Sometimes TWG decisions create an inconvenience but they do mitigate the threats Incirlik personnel are typically exposed to. 

Our reaction to TWG recommendations and to force protection in general runs between extremes. Some have a "Pollyanna" attitude, thinking "nothing will ever happen here." 

At the other extreme, there are people who are so frightened they never get out to enjoy this incredible country. 

The appropriate attitude is somewhere in the middle. 

As "foreigners" living in Turkey, we should all use our heads while out and about in order to maintain situational awareness. 

Terrorists and criminal elements pose a very real threat and heightened situational awareness may help keep you out of harms way. 

The recent Turkish National Police attack on an Al Qaeda cell in Gaziantep, a popular destination about four hours from here, shows the threat is real. 

Unfortunately, one Turkish National Policeman died in the attack while keeping you and me safe from these extremists. 

What should be our attitude when we can't go off base whenever we want? Rather than assuming that "they" are out to ruin your social life, we should try to understand that base leaders make decisions in the best interests of all and these decisions are based on the best information available at the time and on sound reasoning. 

When these decisions create an inconvenience, we should simply make alternate plans and press on.