What you should know about amped-up Joint Base security
If it seems to you that traffic near the entries to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL) is on the sluggish side more frequently, you're right. And while it might be inconvenient, it's also a visual reminder of the ongoing threat of terror on American soil.
On-site security at JBMDL, and throughout the Pentagon's Northern Command, has been elevated. This means extra time for visitors entering and leaving the base, and traffic backups on nearby roads.
"These measures are not tied to any specific threat," Staff Sergeant Caitlin Jones told us. "They're just one of the many ways that we're ensuring the safety and security of our service members and their families."
But mounting instances add up to a red flag for anyone concerned about maintaining order in their day to day lives.
Within about a week of the ISIS claim of sleeper operations in 15 states, the organization took responsibility for the attack at the satirical Prophet Muhammad caricature display in Texas.
A Czech national who raised suspicions by allegedly trying to penetrate Picatinny Arsenal behind the wheel of a truck has been detained since April 17. The incident led to an explosives threat that authorities later regarded as "unfounded," and a lockdown of several hours' duration.
Air Force veteran Tairod Pugh, 47, of Neptune, was charged in March with attempting to provide material support to the terrorist organization. He has pleaded not guilty.
The bottom line is that every citizen has a responsibility to be vigilant about any activity that could be considered suspicious or irregular - on the street or on the Internet - and to report it to law enforcement officials.
"Our goal is to educate not only our military community, but also our civilian partners around [New] Jersey," the Sergeant said. "We'll do this as long as it takes, to make sure that everybody's educated and knows what to look out for."
Base security forces are trained to respond to a vast array of threats, the Sergeant said. However, divulging security details would defeat the purpose if they landed in the wrong hands.
Among us civilians, it's a continuous, conscious effort against the tendency to disregard observations out of the ordinary, either out of fear of creating a false alarm (which doesn't seem to bother swatters), fear of error, or fear of involvement.
"Stay vigilant. Maintain that situational awareness, whether you're in the community or on base," the Sergeant said. "If you see something that doesn't look right - any suspicious activity - you can report it directly to the installation [JBMDL]."
The base Defense Operations Center can be reached at 609-754-6001. Local police in every community are also trained and authorized to field, investigate and refer reports.