Security increases at bases across US

Staff/wire report

The commander of Ohio’s largest military base on Friday urged alertness to potential terrorist activity after an increase in the threat level at bases across North America.

Officials at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton said its security threat level has been raised from the lowest of four levels, or Alpha, to the next higher level, Bravo. The base also is taking security measures to establish what officials call “proactive, unpredictable frequency of actions.”

“Ultimately, as a nation, we always need to be vigilant and we all should be on the watch,” Col. John Devillier, 88th Air Base Wing and Wright-Patterson Installation commander, told reporters. “We have to be prepared for .... what we consider to be lone wolves. There’s always that potential around the United States.”

At the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna, an official offered no specifics but said the base has increased its protection measures.

“We are following North U.S. military command guidance to increase our force protection measures. For operational security reasons, I cannot go into specific actions being taken at Youngstown Air Reserve Station,” said Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr., superintendent of public affairs.

Wright-Patterson officials said the last time the base was at the higher threat level was in 2011, around the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“It just means there’s an increased and more predictable threat of terrorist activity,” Devillier said. “It does not relate to a specific action.”

U.S. counterterrorism experts are on alert for “lone wolf,” do-it-yourself terrorist plots inspired by the Islamic State extremist group. Concerns have heightened this week after two gunmen were shot dead while trying to attack an event in Garland, Texas, that featured cartoon images of the Prophet Muhammad.

In Ohio, federal authorities this year have charged a man in Columbus and a man in suburban Cincinnati in separate cases alleging they were plotting a U.S. terrorist attack.

Officials wouldn’t discuss specific tactics or techniques, or how long the elevated threat level will be in place. They expect delays at gates and for personnel services at a base with 26,000 people, including civilian employees and contractors.

Devillier urged everyone to allow extra time, and to be watch for and report any suspicious activity.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force canceled a spring concert scheduled for Friday night along with some special tours because of the base’s measures. But the museum will continue normal operations, spokesman Rob Bardua said.

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