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Pentagon Raises Force-Protection Level for U.S. Bases

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Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has authorized raising the force-protection level for military installations mainly in the United States, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

The commander of U.S. Northern Command Commander, Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., requested the action in recent days in advance of the 10th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. homeland, he added.

Little said Panetta and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reviewed the request.

“This is not in response to any specific or credible threat surrounding the 10th anniversary of 9/11,” Little told reporters, “but we believe it is prudent and precautionary to take such a step.”

It’s no secret that al-Qaida has focused on holidays and milestone events in the past, Little added, noting that the 10th anniversary of 9/11 was mentioned in documents seized at the Abbottabad compound in Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was killed in May.

Navy Capt. John Kirby, Joint Staff spokesman, said the Defense Department does not discuss specific force-protection levels but that the level would be raised at installations throughout the continental United States, including the Pentagon.

The action, he said, “takes effect today and goes through the anniversary,” and it is in keeping with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s Sept. 2 statement on the anniversary of the attacks.

“While there is no specific or credible intelligence that al-Qaida or its affiliates are plotting attacks in the United States to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of 9/11,” Napolitano said, “we remain at a heightened state of vigilance, and security measures are in place to detect and prevent plots against the United States, should they emerge.”

The four levels of force protection applied to every American military installation are alpha, bravo, charlie and delta, according to Northcom.

Alpha is the lowest level and Delta is the highest.

Northcom sets the minimum force-protection condition level for installations in the continental United States because it is the unified combatant command whose geographic area of responsibility is North America.

Other combatant commands, such as U.S. European Command, set force protection condition levels for American military installations in their areas of responsibility.

Individual facility and installation commanders can increase local force protection levels but must adhere at least to the minimum level set by Northcom.

The raised force protection level, Little said, “is a reflection of al Qaida’s continued interest in milestone and anniversary events, and is prudent.”

Article by Cheryl Pellerin, American Forces Press Service