Force Protection Condition
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (September 2009)|
In United States security, Force Protection Condition (FPCON for short) is a terrorist threat system overseen by the Department of Defense directive, and describes the amount of measures needed to be taken by security agencies in response to various levels of terrorist threats against military facilities, as opposed to DEFCON, which assesses the amount of military forces needed to be deployed in a situation with a certain likelihood of attack against the civilian population. The decision on what level of FPCON to implement is affected by the current threat of terrorism towards military facilities and personnel, the amount of security forces available, and current relationships between the United States and the world, which may affect the chances of an attack. FPCON was previously known as THREATCON, until it was renamed in June 2001 due to confusion with United States State Department system of threat assessment.
Descriptions of FPCONs
There are five Force Protection Conditions; the commander of U.S. Northern Command determines what the minimum force protection level will be for every American installation in the continental United States. USNORTHCOM sets the force protection condition level for so many installations because it is the Unified Combatant Command whose geographic area of responsibility is North America. Other combatant commands, such as U.S. European Command and U.S. Southern Command, set the force protection condition levels for American military installations in their areas of responsibility. Individual facility and installation commanders may increase their local force protection levels as they feel is necessary, but they must adhere to at least the minimum level prescribed by USNORTHCOM. Force protection can include procedures as basic as checking identification cards at the entrance to an installation and requiring credentials to get inside a building. However, when necessary, force protection procedures can become as stringent as inspecting every vehicle, person and bag entering an installation. The five Force Protection Conditions are:
- FPCON NORMAL describes a situation of no current terrorist activity. The only security forces needed are enough to stop the average criminal, similar to civilian police forces. (Usually must show only one military ID at base entrance gates.)
- FPCON ALPHA describes a situation where there is a small and general terrorist threat that is not predictable. However, agencies will inform personnel that there is a possible threat and standard security procedure review is conducted. (Usually must show one or two military base IDs at gates.)
- FPCON BRAVO describes a situation with a somewhat predictable terrorist threat. Security measures taken by agency personnel may affect the activities of local law enforcement and the general public. (Must show two military base IDs at gates.)
- FPCON CHARLIE describes a situation when a global terrorist attack has occurred or when intelligence reports that there is local terrorist activity imminent. (Must show two IDs at gates. Military installation traffic routes are restricted.)
- FPCON DELTA describes a situation when a terrorist attack is taking place or has just occurred in the immediate area. FPCON DELTA usually occurs only in the areas that are most vulnerable to or have been attacked. One example is the September 11, 2001 attacks. (Military installations are restricted to only military personnel.)
The key significant difference between FPCON Charlie, and FPCON Delta, is that FPCON Delta references a specific, known threat, whereas FPCON Charlie is used to prepare for imminent threats of a general, non-targeted nature. FPCON Charlie can also be maintained for a significant length of time, several weeks, while FPCON Delta is generally only maintainable for several days.
An FPCON level may also be designated as "+", meaning the facility shall institute extra security measures beyond those specified for the FPCON Level. Generally this is used to provide an extra layer of security for FPCON Alpha. There is a list of extra security measures that may be initiated for a "+" security level; normally the facility Force Protection NCO, will choose two or three for his installation, and switch them out randomly to prevent predictable response. Some, however, are nearly always used. For instance 100% ID checks of all incoming persons is nearly always used at FPCON Alpha+, while armed fenceline patrols may be done for two days, then stopped and replaced with anti-surveillance measures to increase randomness and decrease predictability of defense.
FPCON levels can also be raised in a non-progressive manner; for example, the FPCON level can jump from FPCON NORMAL to FPCON CHARLIE, completely skipping the ALPHA and BRAVO levels.
In popular culture
In the 2009 science fiction movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the US military assumes Condition Delta when they believe that the arrival of multiple Decepticons to Earth is a string of massive terrorist attacks around the world.
In the 2011 science fiction movie Battle: Los Angeles, the US Marines use the term THREATCON Delta when they discover that the "meteors" are actually alien ships.