US military community in Europe advised to be vigilant during holidays

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There are relatively few visitors to the Wiesbaden, Germany, Christmas market in the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015. But the the market tends to get crowded in the evening. Wiesbaden is home to U.S. Army Europe's headquarters. The military in Europe cautioned members of the U.S. military community to be extra vigilant in public areas over the holidays. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)
From Stripes.com
There are relatively few visitors to the Wiesbaden, Germany, Christmas market in the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015. But the the market tends to get crowded in the evening. Wiesbaden is home to U.S. Army Europe's headquarters. The military in Europe cautioned members of the U.S. military community to be extra vigilant in public areas over the holidays. (Dan Stoutamire/Stars and Stripes)

US military community in Europe advised to be vigilant during holidays

by: John Vandiver | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: December 23, 2015

STUTTGART, Germany — The American military community in Europe is being urged to maintain heightened vigilance over the holidays.

“Servicemembers, civilians and family members are encouraged to be extra vigilant around areas of public transportation, such as train stations and airports, as well as celebrations that attract large crowds,” U.S. European Command said in a holiday message to staff this week.

The EUCOM message coincides with a worldwide State Department travel warning, which also urges vigilance. In the wake of the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, which were carried out by Islamic extremists and resulted in the deaths of 130 people, the military community has put increased attention on the security environment around Europe.

At Christmas markets around Germany, there has been an increased police presence over concerns that crowds could be potential easy targets for terrorists. That concern was underscored on Monday, when German police in Wiesbaden, home to U.S. Army Europe headquarters, launched a manhunt for two Arabic-speaking men suspected of having criminal intent of an unspecified nature.

The incident resulted in the temporary closure of the Wiesbaden train station while police conducted a search of the facility.

“U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden community members are reminded of the need to exercise caution during this holiday season,” the garrison said in a Facebook posting. “All U.S. citizens are reminded to be vigilant around buildings or locations where large numbers or people gather for transport or celebration, such as Christmas markets and train stations.”

While there are no specific threats against the military community, Army leaders said terrorist groups are a persistent threat.

With many military members expected to travel around Europe during holiday leave, EUCOM urged staff to alert authorities of alarming behavior.

“People should report any suspicious activity to the military police, local police, or your service’s investigative division,” EUCOM said.

In Europe, residents should dial 112 in the event of an emergency.

vandiver.john@stripes.com